y^^u^/.^ ' JJ^J\iP^
Form 934— 20M— 7-35
lY THE AUTHOR OF WIELAND; AND ORMOXD,
OR THE SECRET WITNESS.
PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BT H. MAXWELL,
KG. 3, L.tTITlA COURT AND SOLD BY MESSRS.
T. DOBSON, R. CAMPBELL, H. AND P. RICE,
A. DJCKINS, AND THE PRINCIPAL
BOOKSELLERS IN THE NEIGH-
The evils of pestilence by which this city has lately
been afflicted will probably form an xra in its history. The
schemes of reformation and improvement to which they will
give birth, or, if no efforts of human wisdom can avail to
avert the periodical visitations of this calamity, the change
in manners and population which they will produce, will be,
in the highest "degree, memorable. They have already sup-
plied new and copious materials for reflection to the physician
and the political economist. They have not been less fertile
of instruction to the moral observer, to who* they have
furnished new displays of the influence of human passions
Amidst the medical and political discussions which are
now afloat in the community relative to this topic, the author
of these remarks has ventured to methodize his own reflec-
tions, and to weave into an humble narrative, such incidents
as appeared to him most instructive and remarkable among
those which came within the sphere of his own observation.
It is every one's duty to profit by all opportunities of incul-
cating on mankind the lessons of justice and humanity. The
influences of hope and fear, the trials of fortitude and con-
stancy, which took place in this city, in the autumn of 1793,
have, perhaps, never been exceeded in any age. It is but-
[ vi ] •
just to snatch some of these from oblivion, and to deliver to
posterity a br ef but faithful sketch of the condition of this
metropolis during that calamitous^eriod. Men only rt quire
to be made acquainted with distress for their compiiss'on and
their chanty to be awakened. H| that depicts, in lively
colours, the evils of disease and poverty, performs an eminent
service to the sufferers, by (Tailing forth, fegnevolcnce in tl.ose
■who are able to afford relief, and he who pourtrays examples
of disinterestedness and intrepidity, confers on virtue the noto-
riety and homage that are due to it, and rouses in the specta-
tors, the spirit of salutary emulation.
In the fjJJowing tale a particular feries of adventures Is
brought to a clofc; but thefe are neceffurily connected with
the events which happened fubfequent to the period here
defcribed. Thefe events are i^ot lefs memorable than thofe
•which form the fubjeftof the preft rat- volume, and may here-
after be publiftied either feparately or in addition to this.
C. B. B.
MEMOIRS OF THE YEAR 1793.
i WAS resident in this city during the year i793«
Many motives contributed to detain me, though departure
was easy and commodious, and my friends were generally
solicitous for me to go. It is not my purpose to enumerate
these motives, or to dwell on my present concerns and trans-
actions, but merely to compose a narrative of some incidents
with which my situation made me acquainted.
Returning one evening, somewhat later than usual, to my
own house, my attention was attracted, just as I entered the
porch, by the figure of a man, reclining against the wall at
a few paces distant. My sight was imperfectly assisted by a
far-off lamp ; but the posture in which he sat, the hour, and
the place immediately suggested the idea of one disabled by
sickness. It was obvious to conclude that his disease was
pestilential. This did not deter me from approaching and
examining him more closely.
He leaned his head against the wall, his eyes were shut,
his hands clasped in each other, and his body seemed to be
sustained in an upright position merely by the cellar door,
a ARTHUR MERVVN.
against which he rested his left shoulder.^Pic lethargy iiua
which he was sunk, seemed scarcely interrupted by my feeling
his hand and his forehead. His throbbing temples and burn-
ing- skin indicated a fever, and his form, already emaciated,
seemed to prove that it had not been of short duration.
There was only one circumstance that hindered me from
forming an immediate determination in what manner this
person should be treated. My family consisted of my wife
and a young child. Our servant maid had been seized three
days before by the reigning malady, and, at her own request,
had been conveyed to the hospital. We ourselves enjoyed
good health, and were hopeful of escaping with our lives.
Our measures for this end had been cautiously taken and
carefully adhered to. They did not consist in avoiding the
receptacles of infection, for my office required me to go
daily into the midst of them ; nor in illlkig the house with
the exhalations of gun-powder, Ainegar, or tar. They con-
sisted in cleanliness, reasonabl^excrcisc, and wholesome
diet. Custom had likewise blunted the edge of our appre-
hensions. To takfc this person into my house, and bestow
ujxm h.im the requisite attendance, v/as the scheme that first
eccurred to mc. Jn this, however the advice of my wife
was to govern me.
I mentioned the incidt nt to her, I pointed out the dan-
ger which was to be dreaded from sucli an inmate. I desire^
her to decide v/ith caution, and mentioned my reso^utioii ■^^
conform myself implicitly to her decision. Should we refuse
to harbour him, we must not forget that there was aw hos-
])ital to which he would, periraps, consent to be carried, and
where he would be acconunodatcd in the best manner the
times would admit.
" Nkv." ; ;i;d she, " talk not of hospitals. At least let
liim i iioice. I have no fear about me, for my part,
in a ca^c j^^iific the injunctions of duty are so obvious. Let
us take the poo^' unfortunate wretch into our protection and
care, and leave the consc.qucnctii to Heaven."
I expected anc^as pleased with this proposal. I returned
to the sick man, and, on rousing him from his stupor, found
him still in possession of his reason. With a candle near, I
had opportunity of viewing him more accurately.
His garb was plain, careless, and denoted rusticity : His
aspect was simple and ingenuous, and his decayed visage still
retained traces of uncommon, but manlike beauty. He had
all the appearances of mere youtli, unspoiled by luxury and
uninnured to misfortune. I scarcely evei; beheld an object
which laid so powerful and sudden a claim tomy afi^ection and
*^ You are sick," said I, In as cheerful a tone as I could
assume. " Cold bricks and night airs are comfortless atten-
dants for one in your condition. Rise, I pray you, and conic
into the house. We will try to supply you with accommo-
dations a little moresiiXable."
At this address he £xe#Mfi languid eyes upon me. " What
would you have," said he.^^1 am very well as I am. While
J breathe, which will not be long, I shall breathe with more
freedom here than elsewhere. Let me alone — I am very well
as I am."
" Nay," said I, " this situation is unsuitable to a sick
m.an. I only ask yon to come into my house and rec^cive all
the kindness that it is in our power to bestow. Pliick up
courage and I will answer for your recovery, provided you
submit to directions, and do as we would have you. Rise,
and come along v;ith me. We will find you a physician and
a nurse, r.nd all we ask in return is rood spirits and com-
" Do you not know," he replied, •' what niv disease is?
Wliy should you risk your safety for the sake of one, whom
your kindness cannot benefit, and who has nothing to give in
There was something In the style of this remark, that
heightened my prepossession in liis favour, and made rac pursue
my purpose with more zeal. " Let us try what wc can d©
for y<u," I answered. " If we save your^R, we shall have
don:^ you some service, and as for recompence, we will Igok
It was with considerable dlfHculty that he was persuaded to
accept our invitation. He was conducted to a chamber, and
the criticalness of his case requiring unusual attention, I spent
the night at his bcJ-side.
My wife was encumbsred with the care both of her infant
and her family. The charming babe v/as in perfc^ct health,
but her mother's constitution was frail and delicate. We
limplified the household duties as muih as possible, but still
these duties were considerably burthensome to one not used
to the ptrforniance, and luxuriously educated. The addition
of a sick man, was likely to be productive of much fatigue.
My engagements would not allow me to be always at home,
and the state of my patient and the remedies necessary to be
prescribed were attended with nmipy tioxious and disgustful
circumstances. My fortune wouWliot allow nife to hire assis-
tance. My wife, with a feeble frame and a mind shrinking,
on ordinary occasions, from such offices with fastidious scru-
pulousness, was to be his only or principal nurse.
My neighbours were fervent in their well-meant zeal, and
loud in their remonstrances on the im.prudcnce and rashness
«f my conduct. They called me presumptuous and cruel in
exposing my wife and child, as well as myself, to sach im-
minent hazard, for the sake of one too who most probably
was worthless, and whose disease had doubtless been, by
negligence or mistreatment, rendered incurable.
I did not turn a deaf ear to these censurers. I was aware
of all the inconveniencies and perils to which I thus spontane-
ously exposed myself. No one knew better the value of that
woman whom 1 called mine, or set an higher price upon her
life, her health, and her ease. The virulence and activity
of this contagion, the dangerous condition of my patient,
knd the dubiousn.ss of his character, were not forgotten by
me ; but still my conduct m this aiViiir received my own entire
•ARTHUR MERVYN. 5
approbation. All objections on the score of my friend were
removed by her own willingness and even solicitude to under-
take the province. I had more confidence than others in the
vincibility of this disease, and in the success of those mea-
sures which we had used for our defence against it. But^
whatever were the evils to accrue to us, we were sure of one
thing; namely, that the consciousness of having neglected
this unfortunate person, would be a source of more unhappi-
ness than could possibly redound from the attendance aijid
care that he would claim.
The more we saw of him, indeed, the more did we congra-
tulate ourselves on our proceeding. His torments were acute
and tedious, but in the midst even of delirium, his heart
seemed to overflow with gratitude, and to be actuated by no
wish but to alleviate our toil and our danger. He made
prodigious exertions to perform necessary offices for him-
self. He supjli-essed • his feelings and struggled to main-
tain a cheerful tone and countenance, that he might prevent
that anxiety which the sight of his sufferings produced in us.
He was perpetually furnishing reasons why his nurse should
leave him alone, and betrayed dissatisfaction whenever she
entered his apartment.
In a few days, there were reasons to conclude him out of
danger; and in a fortnight, nothing but exercise and nourish-
ment v/ere v/anting to complete his restoratien. Meanwhile
nothing was obtained from him but general information, that
his place of abode was Chester County, and that som.e mo-
mentous engagement induced him to hazard his safety by
coming to the city in the height of the ep.denjic.
He was far from being tali^ative. His Silence seemed to be
the joint result of modesty and unpieasing remcmbranres.
His features were characterised by pathetic seriousness, and
his depoitment by a gr.wity very unusual at his ^^e, Aq*
cording to his own representation, he was no more than eighl'
teen jears old, but the depth of ft;s remarks .nd.cated a much
greater advance. His name was Artnur Mcrvyn. Ht des^
6 ARTHUR MERVYN. ■>
cribed himself as having passed his life at the plough-tail and
the threshing--floor : as being destitute of all sdiRlastic in-
struction ; and as being long since bereft of the affectionate
regards of parents and kinsmen.
When questioned as to the course of life which he meant
to pursue, upon his recovery, he professed himself without any-
precise object. He was willing to be guided by the advice of
others, and by the lights which experience should furnish.
The country was open to him, and he supposed that there
was no part of it in which food could not be purchased by his
labour. He was unqualified, by his education, for any libe-
ral profession. His poverty was likewise an insuperable
impediment. He could afford to spend no time in the acqui-
sition of a trade. He must labour, not for future emolument,
but for immediate subsistence. The only pursuit whxh his
present circumstances would allow him to adopt was that
■which, he was inclined to believe, was likewise the most
eligible. Without doubt, his experience was slender, and
it seemtd absurd to pronounce concerning that of which he
had no direct knowledge; but so it was, he could not outroot
from his mind the persuasion that to plough, to sow, and to
reap were employments most befitting a reasonable crea-
ture, and from which the truest pleasure and the least pollu-
tion would flow. ?Ie contemplated no other scheme than to
return, as soon as his health should permit, into" the country,
seek employment where it was to be had, and acquit himself
in Lis enp;ageiT!ents with ficlel^y and diligence.
I pointed out to him various ways in which the city might
furnish employment to one w'tb his qualifications. He had
said that he v/as somewhat accus'.omcd to the pen. There
were st.;t'ons in which the possess on of a legible hand was all
tliut was requisite. He mi);ht add to this a knowledge of ac-
tompts, xncl tJKTi by proc ire hiuiself a post in some mercantile
or public ctli. e.
To this he objecled, that rxperirnce had shewn him unfit
^'>r t' t- life of a p'.nuran. 'i"hls had been lus chief occupation
ARTHUR MERVYN. 7
for a little while, and he found it wholly incompatible with
his health. He must not sacrifice the end for the means.
Starving was a disease preferable to consumption. Besides,
he laboured merely for the sake of living, and he lived mere-
Iv for the sake of pleasure. If his tasks should enable him
to live, but at the same time, bereave him of all satisfac-
tion, they inflicted injury and were to be shuaned as worse
evils than death.
I asked to what species of pleasure he alluded, with which
the business of a clerk was inconsistent.
He answered, that he scarcely knew how to describe it. He
read books when they came in his way. He had lighted upon
few, and, perhaps, the pleasure they afTord him was owing to
their fewness; yet, he confessed that, a mode of life which
entirely forbade him to read, was by no means to his taste.
But this was crivial. He knew how to value the thoughts of
other people, but he could not part with the privilege of
observing and thinking for himself. He wanted business
which would suffer at least nine tenths of his attention to go
free. If it afforded agreeable employment to that part of
his attention which it applied to its own use, so much the
better; but if it did not, he should not repine. He should
be content with a life whose pleasures were to its pains as
nine are to one. He had tried th? trade of a copyist, and in
circumstances more favourable than it was likely he should
ever again have an opportunity of trying it, and he haa found
that it did not fulfil the requisite conditions. Whereas the
trade of ploughman was friendly to health, liberty, and plea-
The pestilence, if it mny so be called, was now declining.
The health of my youncf friend allowed him to breathe the
fresh air and to walk — A friend of mine, byname Wcrtley,
who had spsnt two months from the city, and to whom, in the
course of a familar correspondence, I had mentioned the
foregoln ,• particulars, returned from his rural excursion. He
was posting, on the evening of the day of his arriv?il, with
f ARTHUR MERVYN.
a friendly expedition, to my house, when he overtook Mcr-
v)m going in the same direction. He was surprised to find
him go before him into my dwelling, and to discover, which
he speedily did, that this was the youth whom I had so fre«
quently mentioned to him. I was present at their meeting.
There was a strange mixture in the countenance of Wort-
ley, when they were presented to each other. His satisfac-
tion was mingled with surprise, and his surprise with anger.
Mervyn, in his turn, betrayed considerable embarrassment.
Wortley's thoughts were too earnest on some topic to allovr
him to converse. He shortly made some excuse for taking
leave, and, rising, addressed himself to the youth with a
request that he would walk home with him. This invitation,
delivered in a tone which left it doubtful whether u compli-
ment or menace were meant, augmented Mervyn's confusion.
He complied without speaking, and they went out together j
—my wife and I were loft to comment upon the scene.
It could not fail to excite uneas-nc^ss. They vvere evidently
no strangers to each other. The indirnatlon that flashed
from the eyes of Wortlcy, and the treinblirig consciousness
of Mervyn were unwelcome tokens. The former was my
dearest friend, and venerable for his uiscernnient and integ-
rity : The latter appeared to have drawn upon himself the
anger and disdain of this man. We alreaily anticpated the
shock which the discovery of his un worthiness would produce.
In an half hour Mervyn returned. His embarrassment
had given place to dcjectton. He was always serious, but his
features were now overcast by the deepest gloom. I'he anxi-
ety which I felt would riot aliow ine to hesitate long.
" Arthur./' said 1, ** so;i;ethinj.r is the matter with you.
Will you not disclose it tc us.-" P'jrlia:;s you have brou(,ht
yourself into some dilemma out of which wc inay help you to
escape. Hus any tii:nk'^ of an unpleasant nature passed be-
tween you and Wort!.*y i" '
The youtM d.d not rca'lily answer. lie sceiricu :it a loss
for a suitu jic fwpiy. At length he skid, Thkt souictliiig disa-
ARTHUR MERVYN. 9
greeable had indeed passed between him and Wortle}-.
Ke had had the misfortune to be connected with a man by
whom Wortley conceived himself to be injured. He had
borne no part in inflicting this injuiy, but had nevertheless
been threatened with ill treatment if he did not make disclo-
sures which indeed it was in his power to make, but which
lie was bciuiG, by every sanction, to withhold. This disclo-
sure would be of no benefit to Wortley. It would rather
operate injuriously than otherwise ; yet it was endeavoured to
be v/rested from him by the heaviest menaces. — There he
We were naturally inquisitive as to the scope of these me-
naces ; but Mervyn intreated us to forbear any further dis-
cussion of this topic. He foresaw the difficulties to which
his silence would subject him. One of its most fearful con-
sequences would be the loss of our good opinion. He knew
not what he had to dread from the enniity of Wortley.
Mr. Wortley's violence was not without excuse. It was
his mishap to be exposed to suspicions which could only be
obviated by breaking his faith. But, indeed, he knew not
w'hether any degree of explicitness would confute the charges
thrt were made against him; whether, by trampling on his
sacred promise, he should not multiply his perils instead of
lessening their number. A difficult part had been assigned
to him : by m.uch too difficult for one, young, improvident,
and inexperienced as he was.
Sincerity, perhaps, was the best course. Perhaps, after
having had an opportunity for deliberation, he should conclude
to adopt it ; meanwhile he intreated permission to retire to
his chamber. He was unable to exclude from his mind ideas
which yet could, with no propriety, at least at present, be
made the theme of conversation.
These words were accompanied with simplicity and pathos,
and with tokens of unaffi:cted distress.
" Arthur," said I, " you are master of your actions and
time in this house. Retire when you please ; but you will
^i. ARTHUR MERVYK.
naturally suppose us anxious to dispel this mystery. What-
ever shall tend to obscure or malign your character will of
course excite our solicitude. Wortley is not short-sighted or
hasty to condemn. So great is my confidence in his integ-
rity that I will not promise my esteem to one who has irreco-
verably lost that of Wortley. I am not acquainted with your
motives to concealment, or what it is you conceal, but take
the word of one who possesses that experience which you
complain of wanting, that sincerity is always safest."
As soon as he had retired, my curiosity prompted me to
pay an immediate visit to Wortley. I found him at home.
He was no less desirous of an interview, and answered my
inquiries with as much eagerness as they were made.
" You know," Said he, " my disastrous coBnection with
Thomas Welbeck. You recollect his sudden disappearance
last July, by which I was reduced to the brink of runi. Nay,
I am, even now, far from certain that I shall survive tliat
event. I spoke to you about the youth who lived with him,
and by what means that youth was d'scovered to have crossed
the river in his company on the night of his departure. This
is that very youth.
" This will account for my emotion at meeting him at your
house : 1 brought him out with me. His confusion sufficiently
indicated his knowledge of transactions between Welbeck
and me. I questioned hjm as to the fate of that man. To
own the truth, I expected some well digested lie ; but he
merely said, that he had promised secrecy on that subject,
arid must therefore be excused from giving me any informa-
tion. I asked him if lie knew, that his master, or accom-
plice, or whatever was his relation lo him, absconded 1n my
debt i He answered that he knew it well ; but still pleaded
a promise of inviolable secrecy as to his hiding place. I'his
conduct justly exasperated me, and I treated him with the
severity which he deserved. I am half ashamed to confess
the excesses ©f my passion ; I even went so far as to strike
him. He bore my insults with the utmost patience. No
ARTHUR MERVYN. it|
doubt the young villain is well instructed in his lesson. He
knows that he may safely defy my power — From threats I
descended to entreaties. I even endeavoured to wind the
truth from hi.n by artifice. I promised him a part of the
debt if he would enable me to recover the whole. I offered
him a considerable reward if he would merely afford me a
clue by which I might trace him to his retreat ; but all was
insufHcient. He merely put on an air of perplexity and
shook his head in token of non-compliance."
Such was my friend's account of this interview. His sus-
picions were unquestionably plausible ; but I was disposed to
put a more favourable construction on Mervyn's behaviour.
I recollected the desolate and pennyless condition in which
I found him, and the uniform complacency and rectitude
of his deportment for the period during which we had wit-
nessed it. These ideas had considerable influence on my
judgment, and indisposed me to follow the advice of my friend,
which was to turn him forth from my doors that very night.
My wife's prepossessions were still n.ore powerful advo-
cates of this youth. She v/ould vcuvh, she said, before any
tribunal, for his innocence ; but she willingly concurred with
me in allowing him the continuance of our friendship on no
other condition than that of a disclosure of the truth. To
entitle ourselves to this confidence we were willing to engage,
in our turn, for the observance of secrecy, so far, that no de-
triment should accrue from tlr.s disclosure to himself or his
Next morning at breakfast, our guest appeared with a coun-
tenance less expressive of eir^barrassment than on the last
evening. His attention was chielly engaged by his own
thoughts, and little was said till the breakfast was removed,
I then reminded him of the incidents of the former day, and
mentioned that the uneasiness which thence arose to us had
rather been increased than diminished by time.
" It is in yonr power, my young friend," continued I,
•' to zdd still more to this imcasinffs, or to take it entirclr
^ ARTHUR MERVYN.
away. I had no personal acquaintance with Thomas Wel-
beck. I have been informed by otliers that his character, for
a certain period, was respectable, but that, at length, he con-
tracted large debts and, instead of paying* them, absconded.
You, it s^ems, lived with him. On the night of his depar-
ture you are known to liave occompanied him accross the
river, and this, it seems, is the lirst of your re-appearance on
the stage. Welbeck's conduct was dishonest. He ought
doubtless to be pursued to his asylum and be compelled to
refund his winnings. You confess yourself to know his place
of I'cfuge, but urge a promise of secrecy. Know you not
that to assist, or connive at the escape of this man was
wrong? To have promised to favour his concealment and
impunity by silence was only an aggravation of this wrong.
That, however, is past. Your youth, and circumstances,
hitherto unexplained, may apologize for that misconduct, but
it is certainly your duty to repair it to the utmost of your
power. Think whether by disclosing what you know, you
will not repair it."
" I have spent most of last night," said the youth, " in
reflecting on this subject. I had come to a resolution, be*
fore you spoke, of confiding to you my simple tale. I per-
ceive in what circumstances I am placed, and that I can
keep my hold of your good opinion only by a candid deport-
ment. I have indeed given a promise which it was wrong, or
rather absurd, in another to exact and in me to give ; yet none
but considerations of the highest importance would persuade
me to break my promise. No injury will accrue from my
disclosure to Welbeck. If there should, dishonest as he was,
that would be a sufficient reason for my silence. Wortley
will not, in any degree, be benefited by any. communication
that I can make. Whether I grant or withhold information,
my conduct will have influence only on my own happiness,
and that influence will justify me in grantln;.v it.
" I received your protection when I was friendless and for-
h)rn. You have a right to know whom it Is that you protected.
ARTHUR MERVYN. ij
My own fate is connected with the fate of Welbeck, and tliat
connection, together with the interest you are pleased to take
in my concerns, because they are mine, will render a tale wor-
thy of attention which will not be recommended by variety of
facts or skill in the display of them.
" Wortley, though passionate, and, with regard to me,
unjust, may yet be a good man ; but I have no desire to make
him one of my auditors. You, Sir, may, if you think pro-
per, relate to him afterwards what particulars concerning
Welbeck it may be of importance for him to know ; but at
present, it will be well if your induj^ence shall support me to
the end of a tedious but humble tale."
The eyes of my Eliza sparkled with delight at this propo-
sal. She regarded this youth with a sisterly affection and
considered his candour, in this respect, as an unerring test of
his rectitude. She was prepared to hear and to forgive the
errors of inexperience and precipitation. I did not fully par-
ticipate in her satisfaction, but was nevertheless most zea-
lously disposed to listen to his narrative.
My engagements obliged me to postpone this rehearsal till
late in the evening. Collected then round a cheerful hearth,
exempt from all likelihood of interruption from without, and
our babe's unpractised senses, shut up in the sweetest and pro-
foundest sleep, Mervyn, after a pause of recollection, began.
[ 14 ]
CHAPTER II. \
JMy natal soil is Chester Count)^ My father
had a small farm on which he has been able, by industiy,
to maintain himself and a numerous family. He has had
^nany children, but some defect in the constitution of our
mother has been fatal to all of them but me. They died suc-
cessively as they attained the age of nineteen or twenty,
and, since I have not yet reached that age, I may reasonably
look for the same premature fate. In the spring of last
year my motlier followed her fifth child to the grave, and
three months afterwards died herself.
My constitutum has always been frail, and, till the death
of my mother, I enjoyed unlimited indulgence. I cheerfully
sustained my portion of labour, for that necessity prescribed ;
but the intervals were always at my own disposal, and in
•whatever manner I thought proper to employ them, my plans
were encouraged and assisted. Fond appellations, tones of
mildness, solicitous attendance when I was sick, deference
to my opinions, and veneration for my talents'con pose the
image which I still retain of my mother. I had the thought-
lessness and presumption of youth, and now that she is gone
my compunction is awakened by a thousand recollections of
my treatment of her. I was indeed guilty of no flagrant
acts of contempt or rebellion. Perhaps her deportment was
inevitably calculated to instil into me a froward and refrac-
toi-y spirit. My faults, however, were speedily followed by
ARTHUR MERVYN. iMk
repentance, and in the midst of impatience and passion, il
look of tender upbraidin^i; from her was always sufficient to
melt me into tears and make me ductile to her will. If
sorrow for her loss be an atonement for the offences which
I committed during her life, ample atonement has been
My father is a man of slender capacity, but of a temper
easy and flexible. He was sober and industrious by habit.
He was content to be guided by the superior intelligence
of his wife. Under this guidance he prospered ; but when
that was withdrawn, his affairs soon began to betray marks
of unskilfulness and negligence. My understanding, per-
haps, qualified me to counsel and assist my fatlier, but I was
wholly unaccustomed to the task of superintendence. Be-
sides, gentleness and fortitude did not descend to me from
my mother, and these were indispensable attributes in a boy
who desires to dictate to his grey-headed parent. Time,
perhaps, might have conferred dexterity on me, or prudence
on him, had not a most unexpected event given a different
direction to my views.
Betty Lawrence was a wild girl from the pine forests of
New-Jersey. At the age of ten years she became a bound
servant in this city, and, after the ex^yiration of her time,
came into my father's neighbourhood in searcli of employ-
ment. She was hired in our family as milk-maid and market
woman. Her features v/ere coarse, her frame robust, her
mind totally unlettered, and her morals defective in that
point in which female excellence is supposed chiefly to con-
sist. She possessed superabundant health and good humour,
and was quite a supportable companion in the hay-field or •
On the death of my mother, she was exalted to a some-
what higher station. The same tasks fell to her lot; but the
time and manner of performing them were, in some degree,
submitted to her own choice. The cows and the dairy v/ere
still her province j but in this no one interfered with her, cr
J 6 ARTHUR MERVYN.
pretsnded to prescribe her measures. For this provhice slie
seemed net unqualified, and as long as my father was pleased
•\^'ith her management, I had nothing to object.
This state of things continued, without material variation,
for several months. There were appearances in my father's
deportment to Betty, v.'hlch excited my reflections, but not
my fears. The deference which was occasionally paid to the
advice or the ckims of this girl, was accounted for by that
feebleness of mind which degraded my father, in whatever
scene he should be placed, to be the tool of others. I had
no conception that her claims extended beyond a temporary
or superficial gratification.
At length, however, a visible change took place in her man-
ners. A scornful affectation and awkward dignity began to-
be assumed. A greater attention was paid to dress, which
was of gayer hues and more fashionable texture. I rallied
her on these tokens of a sweetheart, and amused myself with
expatiating to her on the qualifications of her lover. A
clownish fellow was frequently her visitant. His attentions
did not appear to be discouraged. He therefore was readily
supposed to be the man. When pointed out as the favourite,
great resentment was expressed, and obscure insinuations
were made that her aim was not quite so low as that. These
denials I supposed to be customary on such occasions, and
considered the continuance of his visits as a sufficient confu-
tation of them.
I frequently spoke of Betty, her newly acquired dignity,
and of the probable cause of her change of manners to my
father. When tills theme was started, a certain coldness
and reserve overspread his features. He dealt in monosylla-
bles and either laboured to change the subject or made some
excuse for leaving me. This behaviour, though it occasion-
ed surprise, was never very deeply reflected on. My father
was old, and the mournful impressions which were made upon
him by the death of his wife, the lapse of .almost half a
year seemed scarcely to have weakened. Betty had chosen
ARTHUR MERVYX. ^
her partner, and I was in daily expectation of receiving a sum-
mons to the wedding.
One afternoon this gril dressed herself in the gayest man-
ner and seemed making preparations for some momentous
ceremony. My father had directed me to put the horse to the
chaise. On my inquiring whither he was going, he answered
me, in general terms, that he had som.e business at a fe\Y
miles distance. I offered to go in his stead, but he said that
■was impossible. I was proceeding to ascertain the possibility
of this when he left me to go to a field where his workmen
•were busy, directing me to inform him when the chaise was
ready, to supply his place, while absent, in overlooking the
This office was performed ; but before I called him from
the field I exchanged a few words with the milk-maid, who
sat on a bench, in all the primness of expectation and decked
with the most gaudy plumage. I rated her imaginary lover
for his tardiness, and vowed eternal hatred to them both for
not making me a bride's atcendant. She listened to nie with
an air in which embarrassment was mingled sometimes with
exultation, and sometimes with malice. I left her at length,
and returned to the house not till a late hour. As soon as I
entered, my father presented Betty to me as his wife, and
desired she might receive that treatment from me which was
due to a mother.
It was not till after repeated and solemn declarations from
both of them that I was prevailed upon to credit this event.
Its effect up«n my feelings may be easily conceived. I knew
the woman to be rude, ignorant, and licentious. Had I sus-
pected this event I might have fortified my father's weakness
and enabled him to shun the gulf to which he was tending;
but my presumption had been careless of the danger. To
think that such an one should take the place of my revered
mother was intolerable.
To treat her in any way not squaring with her real merits;
to hinder anger and scorn from rising at the sight of her in
^8 ARTHUR MERVYN.
her new condition, was not in my power. To be degraded to
the rank of her servant, to become the sffort of her malice
and her artifices was not to be endured. I had no indepen-
dent provision ; but I was the only child of my father, and
had reasonably hoped to succeed to his patrimony. On this
hope I had built a thousand agreeable visions. I had medi-
tated innumerable projects which the possession of this estate
•would enable me to execute. I had no wish beyond the
trade of agj-iculture, and beyond the opulence which an hun-
dred acres would give.
These visions were now at an end. No doubt her own
interest would be, to this woman, the supreme law, and this
would be considered as irreconcilably hostile to mine. My
father would easily be moulded to her purpose, and that act
easily extorted from him which should reduce me to beggary.
She had a gross and preverse taste. She had a numerous kin.
dred, indigent and hungry. On these his substance would
speedily be lavished. Me she hated, because she was con-
scious of having injured me, because she knew that I held
her in contempt, and because I had detected her in an illicit
intercourse with the son of a neighbour.
The house in which I lived was no longer my own, nor
even my father's. Hitherto I had thought and acted in it
with the freedom of a master, but now I was become, in
my own conceptions, an alien and an enemy to the roof under
"which I was born. Every tie which had bound me to it was
dissolved or converted into something which repelled me to
a distance from it. I was a guest whose presence was borne
with anger and impatience.
I was fully impressed with the necessity of removal, but
I knew not whither to go, or what kind of subsistence to
seek. My father had been a Scottish emigrant, and had no
kindred on this side of the ocean. My mother's family lived
in New-Hampshire, and long separation had exting-uished
all the rights of relationship in her ofispring. Tilling the
earth was my only profession, and to profit by my skill in it,
ARTHUR MERVYN. ig
it would be necessary to become a day-labourer in the senncc
of strangers; but this was a destiny to which I, who had so
long enjoyed the pleasures of independence and command,
could not suddenly reconcile myself. It occurred to me that
the city might afford me an asylum. A short day's journey
would transport me into it. I had been there twice or thrice
in my life, but only for a few hours each time. I knew not
an human face, and was a stranger to its modes and dangers.
I was qualified for no employment, compatible with a town-
life, but that of the pen. This, indeed, had ever been a favou-
rite tool with me, and though it may appear somewhat strange,
it is no less ti-ue that I had had nearly as much practice at the
quill as at the mattock. But the sum of my skill lay in tracing
distinct characters. I had used it merly to transcribe what
others had written, or to give form to my own conceptions.
Whether the city would afford me employment, as si mere
copyist, sufficiently lucrative, was a point on which I pos-
sessed no m.eans of information.
My determination was hastened by the conduct of my netv
mother. My conjectures as to the course she would pursue
with regard to me had not been erroneous. My father's
deportment, in a short time, grew sullen and austere. Direc-
tions were given in a magisterial tone, and any remissness in
the execution of his orders, was rebuked with an air of au-
thority. At length thefe rebukes were followed by certain
intimations that I was now old enough to provide for myself;
that it was time to think of some employment by which I
might secure a livelihood ; that it was a shame for me to
spend my youth in idleness ; that what he had gained was by
his own labour ; and I must be indebted for my living to the
These hints were easily understood. At first, they excited
indignatloD and grief. I knew the source whence they
sprung, and was merely able to suppress the utterance of my
feelings in her presence. My looks, however, were abun-
dantly significant, and my company became hourly more in*
20 ARTHUR MERVYN
supportable. Abstracted from these considerations, my
father's remonstrances were not destitute of weight. He
gave me being, but sustenance ought surely to be my own gift.
In the use of that for which lie had been Indebted to his own
exertims, he might reasonably consult his own choice. He
assumed no control over me : he merely did what he would
tv'ith his own, and so far from fettering my liberty, he ex-
horted me to use it for my own benefit, and to make provision
I now reflected that there were other manual occupations
besides that of the plough. Among these none had fewer
disadvantages than that of carpenter or cabinet-maker. I
had no knowledge of this art ; but neither custom, nor law,
nor the impenetrableness of the mistery required me to serve
a seven years' apprenticeship to it. A master in this trade
might possibly be persuaded to take me under his tuition :
two or three years would sufEce to give me the requiste skill.
Meanwhile my father would, perhaps, consent to bear the
cost of my maintenance. Nobody could live upon less than
I was willing to do.
I mentioned these ideas to my father; but he merely com-
meniled my intentions without offering to assist me in the
execution of them. He had full employment, he said, for all
the profits of his ground. No doubt if I would bind myself
to serve four or five years, my master would be at the ex-
pence of my subsistence. Be that as it would, I must look
for nothing from him. I had shewn very little regard for his
happiness : I had refused all marks of respect to a woman
who was entitled to it from her relation to him. He did
not see why he should treat as a son one who refused what
was due to him as a father. He thou^lit it right that I
should henceforth maintain myself. He did not want my
services on the farm, and the sooner 1 quitted his house the
I retired from this conference with a resolution to follow
the advice that was given. I saw that iienceforth I must be
ARTHUR MERVYN. 21
my own protector, and wondereci at the folly that detained
me so long under his roof. To leave it was nov/ become
indispensable, and there could be no reason for delaying my
departure for a single hour. I determined to bend my course
to the city. The scheme foremost in my mind was to ap-
prentice myself to some mechanical trade. I did not over-
look the evils of constraint and the dubiousness as to the
character of the mafter I should choose. I was not without
hopes that accident would suggests a different expedient, and
enable me to procure an immediate subsistence without for-
feiting my liberty.
I determined to commence my journey the next morning*
No wonder the prospect of so considerable a change in my
condition should deprive me of sleep. I spent the night
ruminating on the future, and in painting to my fancy the ad-
ventures which 1 should be likely to meet. The foresight of
man is in proportion to his knowledge. No wonder that in
my state of profound ignorance, not the faintest preconcep-
tion should be formed of the events that really befel me.
My temper was inquisitive, but there was nothing in the fcenc
to which I was going from which my curiosty expected to
derive gratification. Discords and evil smells, unsavoury-
food, unwholesome labour, and irksome companions, were, in
my opinion, the unavoidable attendants of a city.
My best clothes were of the homeliest texture and shape.
My whole stock of linen consisted of three check shirts. Part
of m.y winter evenlng*s employment, since the death of my
mother, consisted in knitting my own stockings. Of these I
had three pair, one of which I put on, and the rest I formed,
together with two shins, into a bundle. Three quarter-
dollar pieces composed my whole fortune in money.
[ 2^- ]
1 ROSE at the dawn, and without asking or
bestowing a blessing, sallied forth into the high road to the
city which passed near the house. I left nothing behind, the
lofs of which I regretted. I had purchased most of my
own books with the product of my own separate industry, and
their number being, ©f course, small, I had, by incessant
application, gotten the whole of them by rote. They had
ceased, therefore, to be ofany further use. I left them,
without reluctance, to the fate for which I knew them to
be reserved, that of affording food and habitation to mice.
I trod this unwonted path with all the fearlessness of youth.
In spite of the motives to despondency and apprehension,
incident to my state, my heels were light and my heart
joyous. " Now," said I, " I am mounted into man. I
must build a name and a fortune for myself. Strange if this
intellect and these hands will not supply me with an honest
livelihood. I will try the city in the first place ; but if that
should fail, resources are still left to me. I will resume my
post in the corn-field and threshing-floor, to which I shall
always have access, and where I shall always be happy."
I l-.ad proceeded sonie miles on my journey, wl^n I began
to ftel the inroads of hunger. I might have stopped at any
farm-house, and have breakfasted for nothing. It was pru-
dent to husband, with the utmost care, my slender stock;
but 1 felt reluctance to beg as long as I had tlie means of
ARTHUR MER\'TN. ' 23
buying, and I imagined, that coarse bread and a little milk
would cost little even at a tavern, when any farmer was wil-
ling to bestow them for nothing. My resolution was farther
influenced by the appearance of a si^n-post. What excuse
could I make for begging a breakfast with an inn at hand and
silver in my pocket ?
I stopped, accordingly, and breakfasted. The landlord wa»
remarkably attentive and obliging, but his bread was stale,
his milk sour, and his cheese th^ greenest imaginable. I
disdained to animadvert on these defects^ naturally supposing
that his house could furnish no better.
Having finished my meal, I put, without soeaking, one
of my pieces into his hand. This deportment I conceived to
be highly becoming, and to indicate a liberal and manly
spirit. I always reg arded with contempt a scrupulous maker
of bargains. He received the money with a complaisant
obeisance. "Right," said he. "j^'u^f the money. Sir. You
are on foot. Sir. A pleasant way of travelling, Sir. I wish
you a good day. Sir." — So saying he walked away.
This proceeding was wholly unexpected. I conceived my-
self intitled to at least three-fourths of it in change. The
first impulse was to call him back, and contest the equity of
his demand, but a moment's reflection shewed me the absur-
dity of such conduct. I resumed my journey with spirits
somewhat depressed. I have heard of voyagers and wanderers
in deserts, vvho were willing to give a casket of gems for a
cup of cold vv'ater. I had not supposed my own condition to
be, in any respect, similar; yet 1 had just given one third of
my estate for a breakfast.
I stopped at noon at another inn. I counte ^ on purcha-
sing a dinner for the same price, since I meant to content my-
self with the same fare. A large company was 'ust sitting
dow^n to a smoking banquet. The land'ord nvited me to
join them. I took my place at the table, but was furnished
with bread and milk. Bein^* prepared to depar I took him
aside. "What is to pay?" said I. — " Did you drink any
24 ARTHUR MER\'YN.
thing, Sir?" — " Certanily. I drank the milk -which was fur*
rished." — " But any liquors, Sir?"— "No.**
He deliberated a moment and then assuming an air of dis-
interestedness, " 'Tis our custom to charge dinner and club,
but as you drank nothing, we'll let the club go. A mere
dinner is half-a-dollar, Sir."
He had no leisure to attend to my fluctuations. After de-
bating with myself on what was to be done, I concluded that
compliance was best, and leaving the money at the bar
resumed my way.
I had not performed more than half my journey, yet my
purse was entirely exhausted. This was a specimen of the
cost incurred by living at an inn. If I entered the city, a
tavern must, at least for some time, be my abode, but I
had not a farthing remaining to defray my charges. My
father had formerly entertained a boarder for a dollar per
week, and, in a case of need, I was willing to subsist upon
coarser fare, and lie on an harder bed than those with which
our guest had been supplied. These facts had been the
. foundation of my negligence on this occasion.
What was now to be done ? To return to my paternal man-
sion was impossible. To relinquish my design of entering
the city and to seek a temporary asylum, if not i>ermanent
employment, at some one of the plantations, within view,
was the most obvious expedient. These deliberations did
not slacken my pace. I was ajmost unmindful of my Avay,
•when I found I had passed Schuylkill at the upper bridge,
I was now within the precincts of the city and night was
hastening. It behoved me to come to a speedy decision .
Suddenly I recollected that I had not paid the customary
toll at the bridge : neither had I money wherewith to pay it.
A demand of payment would have suddenly arrested my pro-
gress ; and so slight an incident would have precluded that
wonderful destiny to which 1 was reserved, Tl-e obstacle
that would have hindered my advance, uow prevented my re-
turn. Scrupulous honesty did not require me to turn back
ARTHUR JfERVYN. 25
and awaken the vigilance of the toll gatherer. I had nothing
to pay, and by returning I should only double my debt. *^ Let
it stand," said 1, " where it does. All that honour enjoins is
to pay when I am able."
I adhered to the cross ways, till I reached Market- street.
Night had fallen, and a triple row of lamps presented a spec-
tacle enchanting and new. My personal cares were, for a
time, lost in the tumultuous sensations with which I was now
engrossed. I had never visited the city at this hour. "When
my last visit was paid I was a mere child. The novelty which
environed every object was, therefore, nearly absolute. I
proceeded with more cautious steps, but was still absorbed
in attention to passing objects. 1 reached the market-house,
and, entering it, indulged myself in new delight and new
I need not remark that our ideas of magnificence and splen-
dour are merely comparative ; yet you may be prompted to
9mile when I tell you that, in walking through tliis avenue,
I, for a moment, conceived myself transported to the hall
*' pendent with many a row of starry lamps and blazing cres-
cents fed by naptha and asphaltos." That this transition
from my homely aud quiet retreat, had been affected in so
few hours, wore the aspect of miracle or magic.
I proceeded from one of these buildings to another, till I
reached their termination in Front-street. Here my progress
was checked, and 1 sought repose to my weary limbs by
seating myself on a stall. No wonder some fatigue was felt
by me, accustomed as I was to strenuous exertions, since,
exclusive of the minutes spent at breakfast and dinner, 1 had
travelled fifteen hours and forty-five miles.
I began now to reflect, with some earnestness, on my con-
dition. I was a stranger, friendless, and moneyless. I was
unable to purchase food and shelter, and was wholly unused to
the business of begging. Hunger was the only serious incon-
venience to which I* was immediately exposed. I had no
•bjection to spend the night in the spot v^herc I then sat*
i6 ARTHUR MERVYN.
I had no fear that my visions would be troubled b^ the officers
of police. Jt was no crime to be without a home ; but how
should I supply my present cravings and the cravings of to-
At length it occurred to me that one of our country neigh-
bours was probably at this time in the city. He kept a store
as well as cultivated a farm. He was a plain and well mean-
ing man, and should I be so fortunate as to meet him, his
superior knowledge of the city might be of essential benefit
to me in my present forlorn circumstances. His generosity
might likewise induce him to lend me so much as would pur-
chase one meal. I had formed the resolution to leave the
city next day and was astonished at the folly that had led me
into it; but, meanwhile, my physical wants must be sup-
Where should I look for this man? In the course of con-
versation I recollected hiai to have referred to the place of
his temporary abode. It was an inn, but the sign, or the
name of the keeper, for some time withstood all my efforts
to recall them.
At length I lighted on the last. It was Lesher's tavern*
1 immediat-^ly set out in search of it. After many inquirie*
I at last arrived at the door. I was preparing to enter the
house when I perceived that my bundle was ggne. I had left
it on the stall where I had been sitting. People were pei-petu-
ally passing to and fro. It was scarcely possible not to have
been noticed. No one that observed it would fail to make it
bis prey. Yet It was of too much value to me, to allow mc
to be governed by a bare probability. 1 resolved to lose not
a moment in returning.
With some difllculty I retraced my steps, but the bundle
bad disappeared. The clothes were, in themselves, of small
value, but they constituted the whole of my wardrobe; and
I now reflected that they were capable of being transmuted,
by the pawn or sale of them, into food. There were other
>vretches as indigent as I was, and I consoled myself by think
ARTHUR MERVYIf. 27
ing that my shirts and stockings might furnish a seasonable
covering to their nakedness ; but there was a relique con-
cealed within this bundle, the loss of which could scarcely be
endured by me. It was the portrait of a young man who died
three years ago at my father's house, drawn by his own hand.
He was discovered one morning in the orchard with many
marks of insanity upon him. His air and dress bespoke some
elevation of rai^k and fortune. My mother's compassion was
excited, and, as his singularities were h:irmless, an asylum
was afforded him, though he was unable to pay for it. He
was constantly declaiming, in an incoherent manner, about
some mistress who had proved faithless. His speeches seem-
ed, however, like the rantings of an actor, to be rehearsed
by rote or for the sake of exercise. He was totally careless
of his person and health, and by repeated negligences of this
kind, at last contracted a fever of which he speedily died.
The name which he assumed was Clavering.
He gave no distinct account of his family, but stated in
loose terms that they were residents in England, high born
and wealthy. That they had denied him the woman whom
he loved and banished him to America, under penalty of death
if he should dare to return, and that they had refused him all
means of subsistence in a foreign land. He predicted, in
his wild and declamator}' way, his own death. He was very
skilful at the pencil, and drew this portrait a short time before
his dissolution, presented it to me, and charged me to pre-
serve it in remembrance of him. My mother loved the youth
because he was amiable and unfortunate, and chiefly because
she fancied a very powerful resemblance between his counte-
nance and mine. I was too young to build affection on any
rational foundation. I loved him, for whatever reason, with
an ardour unusual at my age, and which this portrait had
contributed to prolong and to cherish.
In thus finally leaving my home, I was careful not to leave
this picture behind. I wrapt it in paper in which a fe"VT
C-legiac stiiuzas were inscribed in my ONvn hand and with
38 ARTHUR MERVYN.
my utmost elegance of penmanship. 1 then placed it in a
leathern case, which, for greater security, was deposited in
the centre of my bundle. It will occur to you, perhaps, that
it would be safer in some fold or pocket of the clothes which
I wore. I was of a diiferent opinion and was now to endure
the penalty of my error.
It was in vain to heap execrations on my negligence, or to
consume the little strength left to me in regre±s. I returned
once more to the tavern and made inquiries for Mr. Capper^
the person Avhom I have just mentioned as my father's neigh-
bc-ur. I was informed that Capper was now in town; that
J^e had lodged, on the last-night, at this house; that he had
expected to do the same to-night, but a gentleman had called
ten minutes ago, whose invitation to lodge with him to-night
had been accepted. They had just gone out together. Who,
I asked, was the gentleman? The landlord had no knowledge
of him: he knew neither his place of abode nor his name...
Was Mr. Capper expected to return hither in the morning?
—No, he had heard the stranger propose to Mr. Capper to
go with him into the country to-morrow, and Mr. Capper, he
Relieved, had assented.
This disappointment was peculiarly severe. I had lost,
by my own negligence, the only opportunity that would offer
of meeting my friend. Had even the recollection of my
loss been postponed for three minutes, I should have entered
the house, and a meeting would have been secured. I could
discover no otlier expedient to obviate the present evil. JVTy
heart began now, for the first time, to droop. I looked
back, with nameless emotions, on tlie days of my infancy.
I called up the image of my mother. 1 reiitcted on the in-
fatuation of my surviving parent, and the usurpation-of the
detestable Betty with horror. 1 viewed myself as the most
. calamitous and desolate of human beings.
At this time I was sitting in the common room. Thcr«
were others in the same apartment, lounging, or whistling,
•r singing. I noticed them not, but leaning my head upon
ARTHUR MERVYX. 29
my hand, I delivered myself up to painful and intense medi-
tation. From this I was roused by some one placing himself
on the bench near me and addressing me thus: " Pray Sir,
if you will excuse me, v;ho was the person whom you were
looking for just now? Perhaps I can give you the information
you want. If I can, you will be very welcome to it." — I
fixed my eyes with some eagerness on the person that spoke.
He was a young man, expensively and fashionably dressed,
whose mien was considerably prepossessing, and whose coun-
tenance bespoke some portion of discernment. I described
to him the man whom I sought. " I am in search of the
same man myself," said he, " but I expect to meet hi^i
here. He may lodge elsewhere, but he promised to meet
me here at half after nine. I have no doubt he will fulfil
his promise, so that you will meet the gentleman."
I was highly gratified by this information, and thanked my
informant with some degree of warmth. My gratitude he did
not notice, but continued : " In order to baguile expectation,
I have ordered supper : Will you do me the favour to partake
with me, unless indeed you have supped already?" I was
obliged, someVhat awkwardly, to decline his invitation, con-
scious as I wiis that the means of payment were not in my
power. He continued however to urge my compliance, till
at length it was, though reluctantly, yielded. My chief
motive was the crtainty of seeing Capper.
My new acquaintance was exceedingly conversible, but
his Tonversation was chiefly characterized by frankness and
good humour. My reserves gradually diminished, and I
ventured to inform him, in general terms, of my former con-
dition and present views. He listened to my details with
iseeming attention, and commented on them with some judi-
ciousness. His statements, however, tended to discourage
me from remaining in the city.
Meanv^hile the hour passed and Capper did not appear. I
n-^ticed this circumstance to him with no little solicltudeJ'
He said that possibly he might have forgotten or neglected.
3<» ARTHUR MERVVN.
his engagement. His aifalr was not of the highest impor-
tance, and m'vyht be readily postponed to a future opportunity*
He perceived that my vivacity was greatly damped by this
intelligence. He importuned me to disclose the cause. H«
made himself very merry with my distress, when it was at
length discovered. As to the expence of supper, I had par-
taken of it at his invitation, he therefore should of course be
charged with it. As to lodging, he had a chamber and a
bed which he would insist upon my sharing with him.
My faculties were thus kept upon the stretch of wonder.
Every new act of kindness in this man surpassed the fondest
expectation that I had formed. I saw no reason why I
should be treated with benevolence. I should have acted m
the same manner if placed in the same circumstances; yet it
appeared incongruous and inexplicable. I know whence my
ideas of human nature were derived. They certainly were
not the offspring of my own feelings. These would have
taught me that interest and duty were blended in every act
I did not come into the world without my scruples and sus-
picions. I v.'as more apt to impute kindnesses to sinister and
hidden than to obvious and laudable motives. I paused to
Reflect upon the possible designs of this person. What end
could be served by this behaviour? I was no subject of vio-
lence or fraud. I had neither trinket nor coin to stimulate-j
the treacliery of others. What was offered was merely
lodging for the night. Was this an act of such transcendent
disinterestedness as to be incredible? My garb was meaner
t'.nn that of my companion, but my intellectual accomplish-
ments were at least upon a level with his. Why should he
})e supposed to be InsensllJle to my claims upon his kindness.
I was a youth destitute of ex'j:u;ricnce, money, and friends;
Ijut I was not devoid of all mcntaLand personal endowments*
That my merit should be discovered, even on such slender '
intercourse, had surely nothing in it that shocked belief.
ARTHUR MERVYN. -j.
While I was thus deliberating', my new friend was earnest
in his solicitations for my company. He remarked my hesi-
tation, but ascribed it to a wrong cause. " Come," said he,
" I can guess your objections and can obviate them. You
are afraid of being ushered into company ; and people who
have passed their lives like you have a wonderful antipathy
to strange faces; but this is bed-time with our family, so
that we can defer your introduction to them till to-m.orrow.
We may go to our chamber without being seen by any but
I had not been aware of this circumstance. My reluc-
tance flowed from a different cause, but now that the incon-
veniences of ceremony were mentioned, they appeared to m©
of considerable weight. I was well pleased that they should
thus be avoided, and consented to go along with him.
We passed several streets and turned several corners. At
last we turned into a kind of court which seem.ed to be chiefly
occupied by stables. " We will go," said he, " by the back
way into the house. We shall thus save ourselves the neces^
sity of entering the parlour, where some of the family may-
My companion was as talkative as ever, but said nothing
from which I could gather any knowledge of tke number,
character, and condition of his family.
£ 3» 1
W E arrived at a brck wall through which we
passed by a gate into an extensive court or yard. I'he dark-
ness would allow me to see nothin'>" but outlines. Compared
with the p gmy dimensions of my f^ither's wooden hovel, the
buildin,cis before me were of gigantic loftiness. The horses
were here fir more magnificently accommodated than I had
been. By a large door we entered an elevated hall. " Stay
here," said he, " just while I fetch a light."
He returned, bearing a candle, before I had time to ponder
on my present situation.
We now ascended a stair-case, covered with painted can-
vas. No one whose inexper'.ence is less than mine, can ima-
gine to himself the impressions made upon me by surround-
ing objects. The height to which this stair ascended, its
dimensions, and its ornaments, appeared to me a combination
of all that was pomp'^us and superb.
W^ stopped not till we had reached the third story. Here
jny co.npai;i')n unlocked and led the w:iy into a chamber.
** TiVis," said he, " is my room : Permit me to welcome you
1 had no time to examine this room before, by some acci-
dent, the can lie was extinguished. " Curse upon my care-
lessntss," sad lie. *' 1 must ^o down again and light the
iaudle* 1 wiu ictuvn in a twinkling. Meanwhile you may
ARTHUR MER\^N. 35
ondress ^^onrself and go to bed." He -went out, and, as I
I afterwards recollected, locked the door behind him.
I was not indisposed to follow his advice, but my curiosity
would first be gratified by a survey of the room. Its height
and spaciousness were imperfectly discernible by star-light,
and by gleams from a street lamp. The floor was covered
with a carpet, the walls with brilliant hangings ; the bed
and v/indows were shrouded by curtains of a rich texturo
and glossy hues. Hitherto I had merely read of these things.
I knew them to be the decorations of opulence, and yet as I
viewed them, and remembered whei-e and what I was on the
same hour the preceding day, I could scarcely believe myself
awake or that my senses were not beguiled by sorKC spell.
" "Where," faid I, " v/ill this adventure terminate. I rise
on the morrow with the dawn and speed into tha couhtiy.
When this night is remembered, how like a vision will it
appear 1 If I tell the tale by a kitchen fire, my veracity will
be disputed. I shall be ranked y»^ith the story tellers of Shi,*
rauz and Bagdad."
Though busied in these reflections, I was not inattentive
to the progress of time, Methought my companion was re-
markably dilatory. He went merely to re -light his candle,
but certainly he might, during this time, have performed the
operation ten tim«s over. Some unforeseen accident might
occasion his delay.
Another interval passed and no tokens of his coming. I
began now to grow uneasy. I was unable to account for his
detention. Was not some treacl|fry designed? I went to
the door and found that it was locked. This heightened my
suspicions. I was alone, a stranger, in an upper room of
the house. Should my conductor have disappeared, by de-
sign or by accident, and some one of the family should find
me here, what would be the consequence ? Should I not be
arrested as a thief and conveyed to prison? My transition
from the street to this chamber would not be more rapid than^
my passage hence to a gaol.
54 ARTHUR JIERV\T^.
These ideas struck me with panick. I revolved them anew,
but they only acquired greater plausibility. No doubt 1 had
been the victim of malicious artifice. Inclination, however,
coxnjured up opposite sentim>?nts and my fears began to sub-
side. What motive, I asked, could induce an human being
to inflict wanton injury? I could not account for his delay,
but how numberless were the contiiij^encies, that might occa-
I was somev/hat comforted by these reflections, but the
consolation they afforded was short-lived. I was listening
■with the utmost eagerntss to catch the sound of a foot, when
a noise was indeed heard, but totally unlike a step. It was
human breath struggling, as it were, for passage. On the
first effort of attention it appeared like a groan. Whence it
arofe I could not tell. He that uttered it was near; perhape
in the room.
Presently the same noise was again heard, and now I per-
ceived that it came from the bed. It was accompanied with
z. ir.otion like some one changing his posture. What I at
first conceived to be a groan, appeared now to be nothing
more than the expiration of a sieep ng man. What should
I infv^r from this incident? My companion did not apprise me
that the apartment was inhabited. Was his imposture a
jestful or a wicked one?
There was no need to deliberate. There were no means
of concealment or escape. The person would sometime awa-
ken and detect lue. The interval would only be fraught with
agony and it was wise to shorten it. Should I not withdraw
the curtain, awake the person, and eni ountcr at once all the
consequences of my situation? I glided softly to the bed,
"when the thought occurred, May nottlic sleeper be a female?
I cannot dtscr.be the mixture of dread and of shame which
glowed in my veins. The light in which such a visitant
l^'ould be probably regarded by a woman's fears, the precipi-
tate alarn.s that might be giv n, the injury which I might
HBkcovvingly inflict or uude*ervedly suffer, thret/ my thoughtjj
ARTHUR MERVYN. S5
into painful confusion. My presence might pollute a spot-
less reputation or furnisli fuel to jealousy.
Still, though it were a female, would not least injury-
be done by gently interrupting her slumber? But the ques-
tion of sex still remained to be decided. For this end I once
more approached the bed and drew aside the silk. The sleeper
was a babe. This I discovered by the glimmer of a street
Part of my solicitudes were now removed. It was plain
that this chamber belonged to a nurse or a mother. She had
not yet come to bed. Perhaps it was a married pair and their
approach might be momently expected. I pictured to myself
their entrance and my own detection. I could imagine no
consequence that was not disastrous and horrible, and from
which 1 would not, at any price, escape. I again examined
the door, and found that exit by this avenue was impossible.
There were other doors in this room. Any practicable expe-
dient in this extremity was to be pursued. One of these waf
bolted. I unfastened it and found a considerable space within*
Should I immure myself in this closet? I saw no benefit that
^vould finally result from it. I discovered that there was a
bolt on the inside which would somewhat contribute to secu-
rity. This being drawn no one could enter without breaking
I had scarcely paused when the long expected sound ot
footsteps were heard in the entry. Was it my companion or
a stranger? If it were the latter, I had not )'^^|||}stcred'cQu-'
rage sufficient to meet him. I cannot applaud the magna-
nimity of my proceeding, but no one can expect intrepid or
judicious measures from one in my circumstanced. I stepped
into the closet and closed the door. Some one immediately-
after, unlocked the chamber door. He was unattended with
a light, The footsteps, as they moved along the carpet, could
scarcely be heard.
I waited impatiently for some token by which I might be
governed. I put my ear to the key-hole, and at length heard
S6 ARTHUR MERVriT.
X voice, but not that of my companion, excklm, somewhat
above a whisper, " Smiling cherub 1 safe and sound, I see.
Would to God my experiment may succeed and that thou
mayest find a mother where I have found a "wife!" There he
stopped. He appeared to kiss the babe and presently retiring
locked the door after him.
These words were capable of no consistent meaning. They
served, at least, to assure me that I had been treacherously
dealt with. This chamber, it was manifest, did not belong
to my companion. I put up prayers to my deity that ho
■would deliver me from these toils. What a condition was
mine? Immersed in palpable darkness 1 shut up in this un-
known recess ! lurking like a robber 1
My meditations were disturbed by new sounds. The door
•was unlocked, more than one person entered the apartment,
and light streamed through the key-hole. I looked; but
the aperture was too small and the figures passed too quickly
to permit me the sight of them. I bent my ear and thii im-
parted some more authentic information.
The man, as I judged by the voice, was the same who
had just departed. Rustling of silk denoted his companion
to be female. Some words being uttered by the man, in too
low a key to be overheard, the lady burst into a passion of
tears. He strove to comfort her by soothing tones and ten-
der appellations. " How can it be helped," said be. " It is
time to resume your courage. Your duty to yourself and to
me requires you to subdue this unreasonable grief."
He spoke frequently in this strain, but all he said seemed
to have little influence in pacifying the lady. At length, how-
ever, her sobs began to lessen in vehemence and frequency.
He cxhoried her to seek for some repose. Apparently she pre-
pared to comply, and conversation was, for a few minutes,
I could not but advert to the possibility that some occasion
to examine the closet in which I was immured, might occur.
1 knew DOt in what manner to demean myself if this should
ARTHUR MERVYN. 37
take place. I had no option at present. By withdrawing my-
^elf from view I had lost the privilege of an upright deport-
ment. Yet the thought of spending the night in this spot was
not to be endured.
Gradually I began to view the project of bursting from
the closet, and trusting to the energy of truth and of an art-
less tale, with more complacency. More than once my hand
was placed upon the bolt, but withdrawn by a sudden falter-
ing of resolution. When one attempt failed, I recurred once
more to such reflections -jls were adapted to renew my pur-
I preconcerted the address which I should use. I resolved
to be perfectly explicit: To withhold no particular of my
adventures from the moment of my arrival. My descrip-
tion must necessarily suit some person within their know-
ledge. All I should want was liberty to depart; but if this
were not allowed, I might at least hope to escape any ill
treatment, and to be confronted with ray betrayer. In that
case I did not fear to make him the attester of my innocence.
Influenced by these considerationc, I once more touched
the lock. At that moment the lady shrieked, and exclaimed
" Good God! What is here?" An interesting conversation
ensued. The object that excited her astcn'shment was the
• child. I collected from what passed that the discovery was
wholly unexpected by her. Her husband acted as if equally
unaware of this event. He joined in all her exclamations o£
wonder and all her wild conjectures. When these were
somewhat exhausted he artfully insinuated the propriety of
bestowing care upon the little foundling. I nqrw found that
her grief had been occasioned by the recent loss of her own
oflfspring. She was, for some time, averse to her husband's
proposal, but at length was persuaded to take the babe to her
bosom and give it nourishment.
This incident had diverted nr.y mind from its favourite
project, and filled me with speculations on the nature ■.!" the
sceue. One explication was ob\ ious, that the husb-and was
38 ARTHUR MERVYN.
the parent of this child, and had used this singular expedient
to procure for it the maternal protection of his wife. It
•would soon claim from her all the fondness which she enter-
tained for her own progeny. No suspicion probably had yet,
©r would hereafter, occur with regard to its true parent. If
her character be distinguished by the usual attributes of wo-
men, the knowledge of this truth may convert her love into
hatred. I reflected with amazement on the slightness of that
thread by which human passions are led from their tme direc-
tion. With no less amazement did I remark the complexity
of incidents by which I had been impowered to communicate
to her this truth. How baseless are the structures of false-
hood, which we build in opposition to the system of eternal
nature. If I should escape undetected from this recess, it will
be true that I never saw the face of either of these persons,
and yet 1 am acquainted with the most secret transaction of
My own situation was now more critical than before. The
lights were extinguished and the parties had sought repose.
To issue from the closet now would be eminently dangerous.
My councils were again at a stand and my designs frusirated.
Meanwhile tlie persons did not drop their discourse, and I
thought myself justified in listening. Many facts of the most
secret and momentous nature were alluded to. Some allu-
sions were unintelligible. To others I was able to affix a plau-
sible meaning, and some were palpable enough. Every word
that was uttered on that occasion is indelibly imprinted on
my mf^mojy. Perhaps the singularity of my circumstance*
and my prcij^ous ignorance of what was passing in the world,
contributed to render me a greedy listener. Most that was said
I shall overlook, but one part of the conversation it will be
necessary to repeat.
A large company had assembled that evening at their
house. They criticised the character and manners of several.
At last the husband said, " What think you of the Nabob?
Especially when he talked jibout riches? How artfully he
ARTHUR MERVYN. 37
Incouragrs the notion of his poverty 1 Yet not a soul believes
him. I cannot for my part account for that scheme of his. I
half suspect that his wealth flows from a bad source, since h<5
is so studious of concealing it."
" Perhaps, after all," said the lady, " you are mistaken as
to his wealth."
" Impossible," exclaimed the other. '' Mark how he lives.
Have I not seen his bank account. His deposits, since he hafi'
been here, amount to not less than half a milpon."
" Heaven grant that it be so," said the lady with a sigh.
" I shall think with less aversion of your scheme. If poor
Tom's fortune be made, and he not the worse, or but little
the v.'orse on that account, I shall think it on the whole best."
" That," replied he, " is what reconciles me to the scheme.
To him thirty thousand are nothing."
*' But will he not suspect you of some hand in it?"
" How can he? Will I not appear to lose as well as him-
self? Tom is my brother, but who can be supposed to answer
for a brother's integrity: but he cannot suspect either of us.
Kothing less than a miracle can bring our plot to light. Be-
sides, this man is not what he ought to be. He will, some
time or other, come out to be a grand impostor. He makes
money by other arts than bargain and sale. He has found
his way, by some means, to the Portug-uese treasury."
Here the conversation took a new direction, and after
some time, the silence of sleep ensued.
Who, thoughr I, is this nabob who counts his dollars by
half millions, and on whom, it seems as if some fraud v.as
intended to be practised. Amidst their warynesiand subtlety
how little are they aware that their conversation has been
overheard 1 By means as inscrutable as those which conducted
me hither, I may her^^fter be enabled to profit by this detec-
tion of a plot. But, meanwhile, what was I to do? How vras
I to effect my escape from this perilous asylum?
After much reflection it occurred to me that to gain the
street without exciting their notice was not utterly impossi-
40 ARTHUR MERVYN.
tie. Sleep does not commonly end of itself, unless at a cer-
tain period. What impediments were there between me and
liberty which I could not remove, and remo\e ^vith so much
caution as to escape notice. Motion and sound inevitably
go together, but every sound is not attended to. The doors
of the closet and the chamber did not creak upon their hin-
ges. The latter might be locked. This I was able to ascer-
tain only by experiment. If it were so, yet the key was
probably in the lock and might be used without much noise.
I waited till their slow and hoarser inspirations shewed
them to be both asleep. Just then, on changing my position,
jny head struck against some things which depended from
the ceiling of the closet. They were implements of some
kind which rattled against each other in consequence of this
unlucky blow. I was fearful lest this noise should alarm, as
the closet was little distant from the bed. The breathing of
one instantly ceased, and a motion was made as if the head
w^re lifted from the pillow. This motion, Avhich was made
by the husband, awaked his companion, who exclaimed,
" What is the matter?"
*' Something, 1 believe," replied he, " in the closet. If
i was not dreaming, I heard the pistols strike against each
ether tis if some one was taking them down."
This intimation was well suited to alarm the lady. She
besought him to ascertain the matter. This to my utter dis-
may he at first consented to do, but presently observed that
probably his cars had misinformed him. It was hardly possi-
ble that the sound proceeded from them. It might be a rat,
or his own fa«cy might have fashioned it. — It is not easy to
describe my trepidations while this conference was holding.
I saw how easily their slumber was disturbed. The obstacle*
to my escape were less surmount^iblc than I had imagined..
In a little time all was again still. I waited till the usual
tokens of sleep were distinguishable. I once more resumed
jny attempt. The bolt was withdrawn with all possible slow-
ness i but I could by no means prevent all sound. My stat«
ARTHUR MERVYN. 4^
"was full of Irrquietude and suspense ; my attention being pain-
fully divided between the bolt and the condition of the sleep-
ers. The difficulty lay in giving that degree of force -which
"was barely sufficient. Perhaps not less than fifteen minutes
■were consumed in this operation. At last it was happily ef-
fected and the door was cautiously opened.
Emerging as I did from utter darkness, the light admitted
into three windows, produced, to my eyes, a considerable
illumination. Objects which, on my first entrance into this
apartment, were invisible, were now clearly discerned. The
bed was shrowded by curtains, yet I shrunk back into my
covert, fearful of being seen. To facilitate my escape I put
off my shoes. My mind was so full of objects of more ur-
gent moment that the propriety of taking them along with
me never occurred. I left them in the closet.
I now glided across the apartment to the door. I was not
a little discouraged by observing that the key was wanting.
My whole hope depended on the omission to lock it. In my
haste to ascertain this point, I made some noise which again
roused one of the sleepers. He started and cried "Who is
I now regarded my case as desperate and detection as ine-
vitable. My apprehensions, rather than my caution, kept
me mute. I shrunk to the wall, and waited in a kind of agony
for the moment that should decide my fate.
The lady was again roused. Iri answer to her inquiries,
her husband said that some one he believed was at the door,
but there was no danger of their entering, for he had locked
it and the key was in his pocket.
My courage was completely annihilated by this piece of
intelligence. My resources were now at an end. I could only
remain in this spot, till the morning light, which could be at
no great distance, should discover me. My inexperience disa-
bled me from estimating all the perils of my situation. Per-
haps I had no more than temporaiy inconveniences to dread.
My intention was innocent, and I had been betraved into my
41 ARTHUR MERVVN.
present situation, not by my own wickedness but the wick-
edness of others.
I was deeply impressed • with the ambiguousness which
would necessarily rest upon my motives, and the scrutiny to
"which they would be subjected. I shuddered at the bare pos-
sibility of being ranked with thieves. These reflections again
gave edge to my ingenuity In search of the means of escape.
I had carefully attended to the circumstances of their en-
trance. Possibly the act of locking had been unnoticed ; but,
■was it not likewise possible that this person had been mista-
ken ? The key was gone. Would this have been the case if
the door were unlocked?
My fears, rather tlian my hopes, impelled me to make the
experiment. I drew back the latch and, to my unspeakable
joy, the door opened.
I passed through and explored my way to the stair-case. I
descended till I reached the bottom. I could not recollect with
Accuracy the position of the door leading into the court, but
by carefully feeling along the wall with my hands, 1 at
length discovered it. It was fastened by several bolts and a
lock. The bolts were easily withdrawn, but the key was re-
moved. I knew not where it was deposited. I thought I had
reached the threshold of liberty, but here was an impediment
that threatened to be insurmountable.
But if doors could not be passed, windows might be unbar-
red. I remembered that my companion had gone into a door
on the left himd, in search of a light. I searched for this
door. Fortunately it was fastened only by a bolt. It admit-
ted me into a room which I carefully explored till I reached
a window. I will not dwell on my efforts to unbar this en-
trance. SufRce it to say that, after much exertion and fre-
quent mistakes, I at length found my way into the yard, and
thence passed into the court.
[■ 43 1
Now I vras once more on public ground. By
So many anxious efforts had I disengaged myself from the
perilous precincts of private property. As many stratagems
as arc usually made to enter an house, had been employed by
me to get out of it. I was urged to the use of them by my
fears ; yet so far from carrying off spoil, I had escaped with
the loss of an essential part of my dress.
I had now leisure to reflect. I seated myself on the ground
and reviewed the scenes through which I had just passed. I
began to think that my industry had been misemployed.
Suppose I had met the person on his first entrance into his
chamber? Was the truth so utterly wild as not to have found
credit? Since the door was locked, and there was no other ave-
nue ; what other statement but the true one would account
for my being found there ? This deportment had been worthy
of an honest puqaose. My betrayer probably expected that
this would be the issue of his jest. My rustic simplicity,
he might think, would suggest no more ambiguous or elabo-
rate expedient. He might likewise have predetermined to
interfere if my safety had been really endangered.
On the morrow the two doors of the chamber and the
"window below would be found unclosed. They will sus-
pect a design to pillage, but their searches will terminate
in nothing but in the discovery of a pair of clumsy and
dusty shoes io the closet. Now that I was safe I could iiot
44 ARTHUR MERVYN.
help smiling at the picture which my fancy drew of their
anxiety and wonder. These thoughts, however, gave place
to more momentous considerations.
I could not image to myself a more perfect example of
indigence than I now exhibited. There was no being in the
v'lty on whose kindness I had any claim. Money I had none,
and what I then wore comprised my whole stock of movea-
bles. I had just lost my shoes, and this loss rendered my
stockings of no use. My dignity remonstrated against a
bare-foot pilgrimage, but to this, necessity now reconciled
me. I threw my stockings between the bars of a stable win-
dow, belonging, as I thought, to the mansion I had just
left. These, together with my shoes, I left to pay the cost
of my entertainment.
I saw that the city was no place for me. The end that I
had had in view, of procuring some mechanical employment,
could only be obtained by the use of means, but what means
to pursue I knew not. This night's perils and deceptions gave
me a distaste to a city life, and my ancient occupations rose
to my view enhanced by a thousand imaginary charms. I re-
solved forthwith to strike into the country.
The day began now to dawn. It was Sunday, and I was
desirous of eluding observation. I was somewhat recruited
by rest though the languors of sleeplessness oppressed me.
I meant to throw myself on the first lap of verdure I should
meet, and indulge in sleep that I so much wanted. I knew not
the direction of the streets ; but followed that which I first
entered from the court, trusting that, by adheri.ng steadily to
one course, I should sometime reach the fields. This street, as
I afterwards found, tended to Schuylkill, and soon extricated
me from houses. I could not cross this river without payment
of toll. It was requisite to cross it in order to reach that jiart
of the country whither I was desirous of going, but how
should I effect my passage? I knewof no ford, jlnd the smallest
cxpence exceeded my capacity. Ten thousand guineas and a
farthing were equally remote from nothing, and nothing was
the portion allotted to me.
ARTHUR MERV\'N. 45-
While my mind was thus occupied, I turned up one of the
streets which tend northward. It was, for some length, unin-
habited and unpavcd. Presently I reached a pavement, and
a painted fence, along which a row of poplars was planted.
It bounded a garden into which a knot-hole permitted me to
pr)'. The inclosure was a charming green, which I saw ap-
pended to an house of the loftiest and most stately order. It
seemed like a recent erection, had all the gloss of novelty, and
exhibited, to my unpractised eyes, the magnificence of pala-
ces. My father's dwelling did not equal the height of one sto-
r}-, and might be easily comprised in one fourth of those build-
dings which here were designed to accommodate the menials.
My heart dictated the comparison between my own condition
and that uf the proprietors of this domain. How wide and
how impassible was the gulf by which we were separated!
This fair inheritance had fallen to one who, perhaps, would
only abuse it to the purposes of luxur)', whde I, with inte«-
tions worthy of the friend of mankind, was doomed to wield
the fiail and the mattock.
I ha4 been intirely unaccustomed to this strain of reflec-
tion. My books had taught me the dignity and safety of the
middle path, and my darling writer abounded with encomiums
on rural life. At a distance from luxury and pomp I viewed
them, perhaps, in a just light. A nearer scrutiny confirm.cd
my early prepossessions, but at the distance at which I novr
stood, the lefty edifices, the splendid furniture, and the copi-
ous accommodations of the rich, excited my admiratioa and
I relinquished my station and proceeded, in an heartless
mood, along the fence. I now came to the mansion itself.
The principal door was entered by a stair-case of marble. I
had never seen the stone of Carrara, and wildly supposed this
to have been dug from Italian quarries. The beauty of the
poplars, the coolness exhaled froj^the dew-besprent bricks,
the commodiousness of the seat which these steps afforded,
an^ the uncertainty into which I was plunged respecting mj
46 ARTHUR MERVYN.
future conduct^ all combined to make me pause. I sat dowi
on the lower step and began to meditate.
By some transition it occurred to me that the supply of
my most urgent wants might be found in some inhabitant of
this house. I needed at present a few cents ; and what were
a few cents to the tenant of a mansion like this. I had an
invincible aversion to the calling of a beggar, but I regarded
■with still more antipathy the vocation of a thief; to this alter-
native, however, I was now reduced. I must either steal or
beg; unless, indeed, assistance could be procured under the
notion of a loan. Would a stranger refuse to lend the pit-
tance that I wanted? Surely not, when the urgency of my
wants were explained.
I recollected other obstacles. To summon the master of
the house from his bed, perhaps, for the sake of such an appli-
cation, would be preposterous. I should be in more danger of
provoking his anger than exciting his benevolence. This re-
quest might, surely, with more propriety be preferred to a
passenger. I should, probably, meet several before I should
arrive at Schuylkill.
A servant just then appeared at the door, with bucket and
brush. This obliged me, much sooner than I intended, to
decamp. With some reluctance I rose and proceeded. — This
house occupied the corner of the street, and I now turned
this corner towards the country. A person, at some distance
before me, was approaching in an opposite direction.
" Why," said I, " may I not make my demand of the first
man I meet? This person exhibits tokens of ability to lend.
There is nothing chilling or austere in his demeanour."
'J'he resolution to address this passenger was almost form-
ed; but the nearer he advanced, my resolves grew less firm.
He noticed me not till he came within a few paces. He
seemed busy in reflection, and had not my figure caught his
eye; or had he merely bestowed a passing glance upon me,
I should not have been sufficiently courageous to have de-
tahied him. The event however was widely differe^it.
ARTHUR JrERVYN. 47
He looked at me and started. For an instant, as it were,
and till he had time to dart at me a second glance, he checked
his pace. This behaviour decided mine, and he stopped on
perceiving tokens of a desire to address him. I spoke, but my
accents and air sufficiently denoted my embarrassments.
*' I am going to solicit a favour, which my situation makes
of tlie highest importance to me, and which I hope it will
be easy for you, Sir, to grant. It is not an ahus but a loan
that I seek; a loan ihat I will repay the moment I am able
to do It. I am going to the country, but have not wherewith
to pay my passage over Schuyikiil, or to buy a morsel of
bread. May I venture to request of you. Sir, the loan of six
pence? As I told you, it is my intention to repay it."
I delivered this address, not without some faltering, but
with great earnestness. I laid particular stress upon my inten-
tion to refund the money. He listened with a most inqui-
sitive air. His eye perused me from head to foot.
After some pause, he said, in a very emphatic manner.
" Why into tlie country? Have you family? Kindred?
" No," answered I, " I have neither. I go in search of
the m.eans ol subsistence. I have passed my life upon a
farm, and propose to die in the same condition.'^
" Whence have you come ?"
*' I came yesterday from the country, with a view to earn
my bread in some way, but have changed my plan and propose
now to return."
" Why have you changed it? In what way are you capa-
ble of earning your bread?"
" I hardly know," said I. <' I can, as yet, manage no tool,
that can be managed in the city, but the pen. My habits
have, in some small degree, qualified me for a writer. I
would willingly accept employment of that kind."
He fixed his eyes upon the earth, and was silent for some
miiiutes. At length, recovering himself, he said, " Follovr
48 ARTHUR MERVYN.
me to my house. Perhaps something may be done for you.
If not, 1 will lend you six-pence."
It may be supposed that I eagerly complied with the invi-
tation. My companion said no more, his air bespeaking him
to be absorbed by his own thoughts, till he reached his house,
which proved to be that at the door of which I had been
seated. We entered a parlour together.
Uniess you can assume my ignorance and my simplicity,
you will be unable to conceive the impressions that were
xiade by the size and ornaments of this apartment. I shall
omit these impressions, which, indeed, no descriptions could
adequately convey, and dwell on incidents of greater moment.
He asked me to give him a specimen of my penmanship. I
told you that I had bestowed very great attention upon this
art. Implements were brought and I sat down to the task.
By some inexplicable connection a line in Shakspeare occur-
red to me, and I wrote
" My poverty, but not my will consents."
The sentiment conveyed in this line powerfully affected
him, but in a way which I could not then comprehend. I col-
lected from subsequent events that the inference was not
unfavourable to my understanding or my morals. He ques-
tioned me as to my history. I related my origin and my
inducements to desert my father's house. With respect to
hist night's adventures I was silent. I saw no useful purpose
that could be answered by disclosure, and I half suspected
that my companion would refuse credit to my talc.
There were frequent intervals of abstraction and reflection
between his questions. My examination lasted not much
less than an hour. At length he said, " I want an amanu-
ensis or copyist: On what terms will you live with me?"
I answered that I knew not how to estimate the value of
my services. I knew not whether these services were agreea-
bfle or healthful. My life liial hitlierto been active. My
coriStitution was predisposed to discai»cs of ilic lungs and the
ARTHUR MERVYN. 4^
change might be hurtful. I was willing, however, to tr}-and
to content myself for a month or a year, ulth so much as
would furnish me with food, clothing, and lodging.
" 'Tis well," said he, " You remain with me as long and
no longer than both of us please. You shall lodge and eat in
this house. I will supply you with clothing, and your task
will be to write what I dictate. Your person, I see, has not
shared much of your attention. It is in my power to equip
you instantly in the manner which becomes a resident in this
house. Come with me."
He led the way into the court behind and thence into a neat
building, which contained large wooden vessels and a pump:
" There," said he, " you may wash yourself, and when that
is done, I will conduct you to your chamber and your ward-
This was speedily performed, and he accordingly led the
way to the chamber. It was an apartment in the third story,
finished and furnished in the same costly and superb style
with the rest of the house. He opened closets and drawers
which overflowed with clothes and linen of all and of the best
kinds. " These are yours," said he, " as long as you stay with
me. Dress yourself as likes you best. Here is every thing
your nakedness requires. When dressed you may descend t«
breakfast." With these words he left me.
The clothes were all in the French style, as I afterwards,
by comparing my garb with that of others, discovered. They
were fitted to my shape with the nicest precision. I bedecked
myself with all my care. I remembered the style of dress
used by my beloved Clavcring. My locks were of shining
auburn, flowing and suiooth like his. Having wrung the wet
from them, and combed, I tied them carelessly in a black
riband. Thus equipped I surveyed myself in a mirror.
You may imagine, if you can, the sensations which this
instantaneous transformation produced. Appearances arc
wonderfully influenced by dress. Check shirt, buttoned at
tiie neck, an awkward fustian coat, check trowsers and bare
5» ARTHUR MERVYN.
feet were now supplanted by linen and muslin, nankeen coat
striped with green, a white silk waistcoat elegantly needle-
wrought, casimer pantaloons, stockings of variegated silk,
and shoes that in their softness, pliancy, and polished surface
vied with sattin. I could scarcely forbear looking back to
see whether the image in the glass, so well proportioned, so
galant, and so graceful, did not belong to another. I could
scarcely recognize any lineaments of my own. I walked to
the Window. " Twenty minutes ago," said I, " I was tra-
versing that path a barefoot beggar ; now I am thus." Again
I surveyed mvself. " Surely some insanity has fastened on
my understanding. My senses are the sport of dreams. Some
magic that disdains the cumbrousness of nature's progress,
has v/rought this change." 1 was roused froiu these doubts
by a summons to breakfast, obsequiously delivered by a black
I found Welbeck, (for I shall henceforth call him by his
true name) at the breakfast table. A superb equipage of
silver and china was before him. He was startled at my
entrance. The change in my dress seemed for a moment to
have deceived him. His eye was frequently fixed upon me
with unusual steadfastness. At these times there was inquie-
tude and wonder in his features.
I had now an opportunity of examining my host. There
was nicety but no ornament in his dress. His form was of
the middle height, spare, but vigorous and grac^^ful. His face
was cast, I lliought, in a foreign mould. His forehead reced-
ed beyond the usual degree in visages which I had seen. His
eyes large and prominent, but imparting no marks of bewignity
and habitual joy. The rest of his face forcibly suggested the
idea of a convex edge. His whole figure impressed me with
emotions of veneration and awe. A gravity that ahuost
amounted to saunccs invariably attended liim when we were
He whisper:d the servant that v/aited, wlio immediately
retired. He t'.icn iaid, turning to me, ^' A lady will enter
ARTHUR MERVYN. 51
presently, whom you are to treat with the respect due to me
daughter. You must not notice any emotion she may betray
at the sightof you, nor expect her to converse with you; for
she does not understand your language." He had scarcely
spoken when she entered. I was seized with certain misgiv-
ings and flutterings which a clownish education may account
for. I so far conquered my timidity, however, as to snatch
a look at her. I was not born to execute her portrait. Perhaps
the turban that wreathed her head, the brilliant texture and
inimitable folds of her drapery, and nymphlikc port, more
than the essential attributes of her person, gave splendour to
the celestial vision. Perhaps it was her snowy hues and the
cast, rather than the position of her features, that were so
proline of enchantment : or perhaps the wonder originated
only in my own ignorance.
She did not immediately notice me. When she did she
almost shrieked with surprise. She held up her hands, and
gazing upon me, uttered various exclamations which I could
not understand. I could only remark that her accents wer«
thrillingly musical. Her perturbations refused to be stilled.
It was with difficulty that she withdrew her regards from me.
Much conversation passed between her and Welbeck, but I
could com.prehend no part of it. 1 was at liberty to animad-
vert on the visible part of their intercourse. I diverted some
part of my attention from my own embarrassments, and fixed
it on their looks.
In this art, as in most others, I was an unpractised simple-
ton. In the countenance of Welbeck, there was somewhat
else than sympathy with the astonishment and distress of th«
lady; but I could not interpret these additional tokens.
When Ijer attention was engrossed by Welbeck, her eyex
were frequently vagrant or downcast; her cheeks contracted
a deeper hue ; and her breathing was almost prolonged int®
a sigh. These were marks on which 1 made no comment!
at the time. !My own situation was calculated to breed con-
iusion in my thoughts and awkwardness in my gestures^
5 a ARTHUR ^^ERVYN.
Breakfast being finished, the lady, apparently at the request
of Welbcck, sat down to a piano forte.
Here again I must be silent. I was not wholly destitute
,pf musical practice and musical taste. I had that degree of
Jcnowledge which enabled me to estimate the transcendent
pkill of this performer. As if the pathos of her touch were
insufficient, I found after some time that the lawless jarrings
of the keys were chastened by her own more liquid notes.
She played without a book, and though her base might be
preconcerted, it was plain that her right-hand notes were
momentary and spontaneous inspirations. Meanwhile Wel-
beck stood, leaning his arms on the back of a chair near her,
•with his eyes fixed on her face. His features were fraught
with a meaning which I was eager to interpret but unable.
I have read of transitions effected by magic: I have read
of palaces and deserts which were subject to the dominion of
spells: Poets may sport with their power, but I am certain
that no transition was ever conceived more marvellous and
more beyond the reach of foresight, than that which I had
just experienced. Heaths vexed by a midnight storm may
be changed into an hall of choral nymphs and regal banquet-
ing; forest glades may give sudden place to colonnades and
carnivals, but he whose senses are deluded finds himself still
on his natal earth. These miracles are conteminible when
compared with that which placed me under this roof and gave
me to partake in this audience. I know that my emotions
are in danger of being regarded as ludicrous by those who
cannot figure to themselves the consequences of a limitted and
[ 53 J
In a short time the lady reilred. I naturally ex-
pected t.hat some comments would be made on her behaviour,
and that the cause of her surprise and distress on seeing me,
would be explained, but Welbeck said nothing on that sub-
ject. When she had gone, he went to the window and stood
for some time occupied, as it seemed, with his own thoughts.
Then he turned to me and, calling me by my name, desired
me to accompany him up stairs. There was neither cheerful-
ness nor mildness in his address, but neither was there any
thing domineering or arrogant.
We entered an apartment on the same floor with my
chamber, but separated from it by a spacious entry. It was
supplied with bureaus, cabinets, and book-cases. " This,"
said he, " is your room and mine; but we must enter it and
leave it together. I mean to act not as your master but your
friend. My maimed hand" so saying he shewed me his right
hand, the forefinger of which was wanting, " will not allow
me to write accurately or copiously. For this reason I have
required your aid, in a work of some moment. Much haste
will not be requisite, and as to the hours and duration of em-
ployment, these will be seasonable and sliort.
" Your present situation is new to you and we w'll there-
fore defer entering on our business. Meanwhile you may
amuse yourself in what manner you please. ConslJtir this
house as your home and make yourself familiar with it. Stay
54 ARTHUR MERVYN.
within or go out, be busy or be idle, as your fancy shall
prompt : Only you will conform to our domestic system as to
eating and sleep: the servants will inform you of this. Next
week we will enter on the task for which I designed you.
You may now withdraw."
I obeyed this mandate with some awkwardness and hesita-
tion. I went into my own chamber not displeased with an
opportunity of loneliness. I threw myself on a chair and
resigned myself to those thoughts which would naturally
arise in this situation. I speculated on the character and
■views of Welbeck. I saw that he was embosomed in tranqui-
lity and grandeur. Riches, therefore, were his ; but in what
did his opulence consist, and whence did it arise ? What were
the limits by which it was confined, and what its degree of
permanence? I was unhabituated to ideas of floating or trans-
ferable wealth. The rent of houses and lands was the only
species of property which was, as yet, perfectly intelligible:
My previous ideas led me to regard Welbeck as the proprietor
of this dwelling and of numerous houses and farVns. By the
same cause 1 was fain to suppose him enriched by inheritance,
and that his life had been uniform.
I next adverted to his social condition. This mansion ap-
peared to have but two inhabitants beside servants. Who was
the nymph who had hovered for a moment in my sight? Had
he not called her his daughter? The apparent difference in
their ages would justify this relation; but her guise, her fea-
tures, and her accents were foreign. Her language I sus-
pected strongly to be that of Italy. How should he be the
father of an Italian? But were there not some foreign linea-
ments in his countenance ?
This idea seemed to open a new world to my view. I had
gained from my books, confused ideas of European govern-
ments and manners. I knew that the present was a period
of revolution and hostility. Might not these be illustrious
fugitives from Provence or the Milanese? Their portable
wealth, which may reasonably be supposed to be ^reat, they
ARTHUR MERVYN. 55
fiave transported hither. Thus may be explained the sorrow
that veils their countenance. The loss of estates and hon-
ours ; the untimely death of kindred, and perhaps of his wife,
may furnish eternal food for regrets. Welbeck's utterance,
though rapid and distinct, partook, as I conceived, in som»
very slight degree of a foreign idiom.
Such was the dream that haunted my undisciplined and
unenlightened imagination. The more I revolved it the more
plausible it seemed. On this supposition every appearance
that I had witnessed was easily solved — unless it were their
treatment of me. This, at first, was a source of hopeless per-
plexity. Gradually, however, a clue seemed to be afforded.
Welbeck had betrayed astonishment on my first appearance.
The lady's wonder was mingled with distress. Perhaps they
discovered a remarkable resemblance between me and one
who stood in the relation of son to Welbeck and ef brother
to the lady. This youth might have perished on the scaffold
or in war. These, no doubt, were his clothes. This chamber
might have been reserved for him, but his death left it to be
appropriated to another.
I had hitherto been unable to guess at the reason why all
this kindness had been lavished on me. Will not this conjec-
ture sufficiently account for it? No wonder that this resem-
blance was enhanced by assuming his dress.
Taking all circumstances into view, these ideas were not,
perhaps, destitute of probability. Appearances naturally sug-
gested them to me. They Avere, also, powerfully enforced by
inclination. They threw me into transports of wonder and
hope. When I dwelt upon the incidents of my past life, and
traced the chain of events, from the death of my mother to
the present moment, I almost acquiesced in the notion that
some beneficent and ruling genius had prepared my path for
me. Events which, when foreseen, would most ardently have
been deprecated, and when they happened were accounted
in the highest degree luckless, were now seen to be propiti-
5^ ARTHtTR MERVTN.
ous. Hence I inferred the infatuation of despair and the
folly of precipitate coHchisions.
But what was the fate reserved for me ? Perhaps Welbeck
■would adopt me for his own son. Wealth has ever been capri-
ciously distributed. The mere physical relation of birth is all
that intitles us to manors and thrones. Identity itself fre-
quently depends upon a casual likeness or an old nurse's im-
posture. Nations have risen in arms, as in the case of the
Stewarts, in the cause of one, the genuineness of wiiose birth
has been denied and can never be proved. But if the cause
be trivial and falacious, the effects are momentous and solid*
It ascertains our portion of felicity and usefulness, and fixes
our lot among peasants or princes.
Something may depend upon my own department. Will
it not behove me to cultivate all my virtues and eradicate all
my defects? I see that the abilities of this man are venera-
ble. Perhaps he will not lightly or hastily decide in my
favour. He will be governed by the proofs that I shall give
of discernment and integrity. I had always been exempt
from temptation and was therefore undepraved, but this view
of things had ^ wonderful tendency to invigorate my virtu-
ous resolutions. All within me was exhilaration and joy.
There was but one thing wanting to exalt me to a dizzy
lieight and give me place among the stars of heaven. My
resemblance to her brother had forcibly affected this lady:
but I was not her brother: I was raised to a level with her
and made a tenant of the same mansion. Some intercourse
yrould take place between us: Time would lay level impedi-
ments and establish familiarity, and this intercourse might
foster love and terminate in — marriage.'
These images were of a nature too glowing and expansive
to allow me to be longer inactive. I sallied forth into the
open air. This tumult of delicious thoughts in some time
subsided and gave way to images reh'tive to my present situa-
tion. My curlos.ty was awake. As yet I had seen little of
the city, and this opportunity for observation was not to be
ARTHUR JIERVYN. 57
neglected. I therefore coursed through several streets, atteiv-
tively examining the objects that successively presented
At length, it occurred to me to search out the house in
which I had lately been immured. I vvas not without hopes
that at some future period I should be able to comprehend
the allusions and brighten the obscurities that hung about
the dialogue of last night.
The house was easily discovered. I reconnoitred the court
and gate through which I had passed. The mansion was of
the first order in magnitude and decoration. This was not
the bound of my present discovery, for I was gifted with that
confidence which would make me set on foot inquiries in the
neighbourhood. I looked around for a suitable medium of
intelligence. The opposite and adjoining houses were small
and apparently occupied by persons of an indigent class. At
one of these was a sign denoting it to be the residence of a
taylor. Seated on a bench at the door was a young man,
with coarse uncombed locks, breeches knee-unbuttoned, stock-
ings ungartered, shoes slip-shod and unbuckled, and a face
unwashed, gazing stupidly from hollow eyes. His aspect was
embellished with good nature though indicative of ignorance.
This was the only person in sight. He might be able to
say something concerning his opulent neighbour. To him,
therefore, I resolved to apply. I went up to him and, point-
ing to the house in question, asked him who lived there?
He answered, " Mr. Mathews."
" What is his profession: his way of life-''
" A gentleman. He does nothing but walk about."
" How long has he been married?"
" Married! He is not married as I know on. He never
has been married. He is a batchelor."
This intelligence was unexpected. It made me pause to
reflect whether I had not mistaken the house. This, how-
ever, seemed impossible. I renewed my questions.
" A batchelor, say you? Are you not mistaken?"
5S ARTHUR MERVYN.
" No. It would be an odd thing if he was married. An
old fellow, with one foot in the grave — Comical enough for
him to git a vift',"^
" An old man? Does he live alone? what is his family?"
" No he does not live alone. He has a niece that lives with
him. She is married and her husband lives there too."
" What is his name?"
" 1 don't know: I never heard it as I know on."
« What is his trade?"
*' He's a marchant: he keeps a store somewhere or other;
but I don't no where."
" How long has he been married?"
" About two years. They lost a child lately. The young
woman was in a huge taking about it. They says she was
quite crazy some days for the death of the child: And she is
not quite out of tbe dumps yet. To be sure the child was a
iweet little thing; but they need not make such a rout about
it. I'll warn they'll have enough of them before they die."
" What is the character of the young man? Where was
he born and educated? Has he parents or brothers?"
My companion was incapable of answering these questions,
and I left him with little essential addition to the knowledge
I already possessed.
f 59 ]
- /VFTER viewing various parts of the city; in-
truding into ciiurches ; and diving into alleys, I returned.
The rest of the day I spent chietly in my chamber, reflecting
on my new condition ; surveying ftiy apartment, its presses
and closets; and conjecturing the causes of appearances.
At dinner and supper I was alone. Venturing to inquire
of the servant where his master and mistress were, I was
answered that they were engaged. I did not qu.'stion him
as to the nature of their engagement, though it was a fertile
lource of curiosity.
. Next morning, at breakfast, I again met Welbeck and the
lady. The incidents were nearly those of the preceding
morning, if it were not that the lady exhibited tokens of
somewhat greater uneasiness. AVhen she left us Welbeck
sank into apparent meditation. I was at a loss whether to
retire or remain where I was. At last, however, I was on
the point of leaving the room, when he broke iilence and
began a conversation with me.
He put questions to me, the obvious scope of which was
to know my sentiments on moral topics. I had no motives
to conceal my opinions, and therefore delivered them with
frankness. At length he introduced allusions to my own his-
tory, and made more particular inquiries on that head. Here
I was not equally frank: yet I did not fiiin any thing, but
merely dealt in generals. I had ac(^uired notions of propriety
«o AP.THUR MERVYN.
on this head, perhaps somewhat fastidious. Minute details,
respecting our own concerns, are apt to weary all but the
narrator himself. I said thus much and the truth of my
remark was eagerly assented to.
With some marks of hesitation and after various prelimi-
naries, my companion hinted that my own interest, as well
as his, enjoined upon me silence to all but himself, on the
subject of my birth and early adventures. It was not likely,
that while in his service, my circle of acquaintance would be
large or my intercourse^ with the world frequent; but in my
communication with others he requested me to speak rather
of others than of myself. This request, he said, might appear
•ingular to me, but he had his reasons for making it, which
it was not necessary, at present, to disclose, though, when I
should know them, I should readily acknowledge their vali-
I scarcely knew what answer to make. I was willing to
oblige him. I was far from expecting that any exigence
would occur, making disclosure my duty. The employment
was productive of pain more than of pleasure, and the curio-
sity that would uselessly seek a knowledge of my past life,
was no less impertinent than the loquacity that would use-
lessly communicate that knowledge. I readily promised,
therefore, to adhere to his advice.
This assurance afforded him evident satisfaction ; yet it
did not seem to amount to quite as much as he wished. He
repeated in stronger terms, the necessity there was for cau-
tion. He wJis far from suspecting me to possess an imperti-
nent and talkative disposition, or that in my eagerness to
expatiate on my own concerns, I should overstep the limit*
of politeness: But this was not enough. I was to govern
myself by a persuasion that the interests of my friend and
myself would be materially uffected by my conduct.
Perhaps I ought to liave allowed these insinuations to breed
suspicion in my mind: but conscious as 1 was of the benefits
which 1 had received from this man; prone, from my inex-
ARTHUR MERVYN. . (Tr
pcrlencc, to rely upon professions and conSde in appearances ;
and unaware that I could be placed in any condition, in
which mere silence respecting myself could be injurious or
criminal, I made no scruple to promise compliance with his
Avishes. Nay, I went farther than this: I desired to be accu-
rately informed as to what it was proper to conceal. He
nnswered that my silence might extend to every thing ante-
rior to my arrival in the city, and my being incorporated
■with his family. Here our conversation ended and I retired
to ruminate on \vhat had passed.
I derived little satisfaction from my reflections. I began
now to perceive inconveniencics that might arise from this
precipitate promise. Whatever should happen in consequence
of my being immured in the chamber, and of the loss of
my clothes and of the portrait of my friend, I had bound my-
self to silence. These inquietudes, however, were transient.
I trusted that these events would operate auspiciqpsly ; but
my curiosity was now avvakened as to the motives which
Welbeck could have for exacting from me this conceahnent ?
To act under the guidance of another, and to wander in the
dark, ignorant whither my path tended, and what effects
might flov/ from my agency, was a new and irksome situation.
From these thoughts I was recalled by a message from
Welbeck. He gave me a folded paper which he requested
me to carry to No South Fourth Street, " Inquire," said
he, " for T^Irs. Wentworth, in order merely to ascertain the
house, for you need not ask to see her: merely give the letter
to the servant and retire. Excuse me for imposing this ser-
vice upon you. It is of too great moment to be trusted to a
common messenger: I usually perform it myself, but am at
present otherwise engaged."
I took the letter and set out to deliver it. This was a
trifling circumstance, yet my mind was full of reflections on
the consequences that might flow from it. I remembered the
directions that were given, but construed them in a manner
diffeP^nt, perhaps, from Welbeck's e:ipcctailcns or wishes:*
62 • ARTHUR MERVYN.
He had charged me to leave the billet with the servant who
happened to answer my summons ; but had he not said that
the message was Important, Insomuch that it could not be
intrusted to commoii hands? He had permitted, rather than
enjoined, me to dispense with seeing the lady, and this per-
mission I conceived to be dictated merely by regard to my
convenience. It was incumibcnt on me, therefore, to take
some pains to deliver the script into her own hands.
I arrived at the house and knocked. A female servant
appeared. " Her mistress was up stairs: she would tell her if
I wished to see her," and meanwhile invited me to enter the
parlour: I did so; and the girl retired to inform her mistress
that one waited for her. — I ought to mention that my depar-
ture from the directions which I had received was, in some
degree, owing to an inquisitive temper: I w^as eager after
knowledge, and was disposed to profit by every opportunity
to -survey the interior of dwellings and converse with their
I scanned the walls, the furniture, the. pictures. Over
the fire-place was a ix>rtralt in oil of a female. She was
elderly and matron-like. Perhaps she was the mistress of
this habitation, and the person to whom I should immediately
be introduced. Was it a casual suggestion, or was there an
actual resemblance between the strokes of the pencil which
executed this portrait and that of Claverlng? However that
be, the eight of this picture revived the memory of my
friend and called up a fugitive suspicicn that this was ti.e
production of his skill.
. I was busily revolving this idea when the lady herself
entered. It was the same whose portrait I had been examin-
ing. She fixed scrutinizing and pov/erful eyes upon me.
She looked at the superscription of tlie letter which I pre-
sented, and immediately resumed her examination of me.
I was somewhat abashed by the closeness of her observation
and gave tokens of this state of mind which did not pass
Unobserved. They seemed instantly to remind her that she
ARTHUR MERVYN. 63
behaved with too little regard to civility. She recovered
herself and began to peruse the letter. Having done this,
her attention was once more fixed upon me. She was
evidently desirous of entering into some conversation, but
seemed at a loss in what manner to begin. This situation
■was new to me and was productive of no small embarrass-
ment. 1 was preparing to take my leave when she spoke,
though not without considerable hesitation.
" This letter is from j\Ir. Welbeck — you are his friend —
1 presume — perhaps — a relation?"
I was conscious that I had no claim to either of these
titles, and that I was no more than his servant. My pride
would not allow me to acknowledge this, and I merely said —
'^ I live with him at present Madam."
I imagined that this answer did not perfectly satisfy her;
yet she received it with a certain ^ir of acquiescence. She
was silent for a few minutes, and then, rising, said — -^' Ex-
cuse me, Sir, for a few minutes. I will write a few words
to Mr. Welbeck." — So sayings he withdrew.
I returned to the contemplation of the picture. From
this, however, my attention was quickly diverted by a paper
that lay on the mantle. A single glance was sufficient to
put my blooi into motion. I started and laid my hand upon
the well-known pacquet. . It v/as that which inclosed the
portrait of Claverhigl
I unfolded and examined it with eagerness. By v.-hat
miracle came it hither? It was found, together with my
bundle, two nights before. I had despaired of ever seeinr
it again, and yet, here was the same portrait inclosed in the
self-same paper 1 I have forborne to dwell upon the regret,
amounting to grief, v/ith which I was affected in conse-
quence of the loss of this precious relique. My joy on thus
speedily and unexpectedly regaining it, is not easil/ des-
For a time I did not reflect that to hold it thns in my
band was not sulTicient to intitle me to repossession. I
44 ARTHUR MERVYN.
must acquaint this lady with the historj^ of this picture, and
convince her of my ownership. But how was this to be clone ?
Was she connected in any way, by friendship or by consan-
guinity, with that unfortunate youth. If she were, some
information as to his destiny would be anxiously sought. I
did not, just then, perceive any impropriety in impartinr^ it.
If it caine into her hands by accident still it will be neces-
sary to relate the mode in which it was lost in order to prove
my title to it.
I now heard her descending footsteps and hastily replaced
the picture on the mantle. She entered, and presenting me
a letter, desired me to deliver it to Mr. Welbeck. I had
no pretext for deferring my departure ; but was unwilling to
go without obtaining possession of the portrait. An inter-
val of silence and irresolution succeeded. I cast significant
glances at the spot where it lay and at length, mustered up
my strength of mind, and pointing to the paper — " Madam,"
said I, " there is something which I recognize to be mine—
I know not how it came into your possession, but so lately
as the day before yesterday, it was in mine. I lost it by a
strange accident, and as I deem it of inestimable value, I
hope you will have no objection to restore it." —
During this speech the lady's countenance exhibited markt
of the utmost perturbation — " Your picture !" she exclaimed,
" You lost it! How? Where? Did you know that person ?
What has become of him ?" —
" I knew him well," said I. "That picture was executed
by hims'jlf. He gave it to me with his own hands; and,
till the moment I unfortunately lost it, it was my dear and
" Good Heaven 1" she exclaimed with increasing vehe-
mence, " where did you meet with him ? What has become
of him? Is he dead or alive ?"
These appearances suiHciently shewed me that Clavering
and this lady were connected by some ties of tenderness. I
nswered that Uc was dead ; that my mother and myself were
ARTHUR MER^^^^^ 65
his attendants and nurses, and that this portrait was his
legacy to me.
This intelligence melted her into tears, and it was some
time before she recovered strength enough to resume the
conversation. She then inquired " When and where was it
that he died ? How did you lose this portrait? It was found
wrapt in some coarse clothes, lying in a stall in the market-
house, on Saturday evening. Two negro women, servants
of one of my friends, strolling through the market, found it
and brought it to their mistress, who, recognizing the por-
trait, sent it to me. To whom did that bundle belong?
Was it yours?"
These questions reminded me of the painful predicament
in which I now stood. I had promised Welbeck to conceal
from every one my former condition : but to explain in what
manner this bundle was lost, and how my intercourse with
Clavering had taken place was to violate this promise. It
was possible, perhaps, to escape the confession of the truth
by equivocation. Falsehoods were easily invented, and
might lead her far away from my true condition : but I was
wholly unused to equivocation. Never yet had a lie pol-
luted my lips. I was not weak enough to be ashamed of
my origin. This lady had an interest in the fate of Cla-
vering, and might justly claim all the information which I
was able to impart. Yet to forget the compact which I had
so lately made, and an adherence to which might possibly be,
in the kighest degree, beneficial to me and to Welbeck —
I was willing to adhere to it, provided falsehood could be
These thoughts rendered me silent. The pain of my
embarrassment amounted almost to agony. I felt t'.ie keen-
est regret at my own precipitation in claiming the picture.
Its value to me was altogether imaginary. The affection
which this lady" had borne the original, whatever was the
source of that afr<;ction, would prompt her to cherish tlie
i6 ARTHUR MERVYN.
copy, and, however precious it was in my eyes, I should
cheerfully resign it to her.
In the confusion of my thoughts an expedient suggested
itself sufficiently inartificial and bold — ^" It is true, Madam ;
what I have said. I saw him breathe his last. This is his
only legacy. If you wish it 1 willingly resign it ; but this
is all that I can now disclose. I am placed in circumstances
which render it improper to say more."
Tliese words were uttered not very distinctly, and the
lady's vehemence hindered her from noticing them. She
again repeated her interrogations, to which I returned the
At first she exppressed the utmost surprise at my conduct.
From this she descended to some degree of asperity. She
made rapid allusions to the history of Clavering. He was
the son of the gentleman who owned the house in which
Welbeck resided. He was the object of immeasurable
fondness and indulgence. He had sought permission to
travel, and this being refused by the absurd timidity of his
parents, he had twice been frustrated in attempting to embark
for Europe clandestinely. They ascribed his disappearance
to a third and successful attempt of this kind, and had exer-
cised anxious and unwearied diligence in endeavouring to
trace his footsteps. All their effo ts had failed. One motive
for their returning to Europe was the hope of discovering
some traces of him, as they entertained no doubt of his
having crossed the ocean. The vehemence of Mrs. Went-
worth's curiosity as to those partlcul irs of his life and death
may be easily conceived. My refusal only heightened this
Finding me refractory to all her efforts she at length dis-
iiiiij^.ed mc in anger.
[ 6j ]
1 HIS extraordinary interview was now passed.
Pleasure as well as pain attended my reflections on it. I
adhered to the promise I had improvidently given to Welbeck,
but had excited displeasure, and perhaps suspicion in the lady.
She would find it hard to account for my silence. She would
probably impute it to perverseness, or imagine it to flow from
some incident connected with the death of Clavering, calcu-
lated to give a new edge to her curiosity.
It was plain that some connection subsisted between her
and Welbeck. Would sh« drop the subject at the point
which it had now attained? Would she cease to exert her-
self to extract from me the desired information, or would
she not rather make Welbeck a party in the cause, and pre-
judice my new friend against me? This was an evil proper,
by all lawful means, to avoid. I knew of no other expedient
than to confess to him the truth, with regard to Claverino-,
and explain to him the dilemma in which my adherence to
my promise had involved me.
I found him on my return home and delivered him the
letter with which I was charged. At the sight of it sur-
prise, mingled with some uneasiness appeared in his looks.
*' Whatl" said he, in a tone of disappointment, *' you thea
saw the lady?"
I now remembered his direction-; to leave my message at
the door, and apologized for my neglecting them by tcllinff
68 ARTHUR MERVYN.
my reasons. His chagrin vanished, but not" without an appa-
rent effort, and he said that all was well; the affair was of
After a pause of preparation, I intreated his attention to
something which I had to relate. I then detailed the history
of Clavering and of my late embarrassments. As I went on
his countenance betokened increasing solicitude. His emo-
tion was particularly strong when I came to the interrogato-
ries of Mrs. Wentworth in relation, to Clavering; but this
emotion gave way to profound surprise when I related the
manner in which I had eluded her inquiries. I concluded
"with observing, that when I promised forbearance on the
subject of my own adventures, I had not foreseen any exi-
gence which would make an adherence to my promise diffi-
cult or inconvenient: that, if h^ interest was promoted by
my silence, 1 N\as still willing to maintain it and requested his-
directions how to conduct myself on this occasion.
He appeared to ponder deeply and with much perplexity
on what I had said. When he spoke there was hesitation
in his manner and circuity in his expressions, that proved him
to have something in his thoughts which he knew not how
to communicate. He^frequently paused; but my answers
and remarks, occasionally given, appeared to deter hiwi from
the revelation of his purpose. Our discourse ended, for the
present, by his desiring me to persist in my present plan ; I
should suffer no Inconveniencies from it, since it would be
m.y own fault if an interview again took place between th«
lady and me; meanwhile he should see her and effectually
silence her inquiries.
I ruminated not superficially or briefly on this dialogue.
By what means would he silence her inquiries ? He surely
meant not to mislead her by fallacious representations ? Some
inquietude now crept into my thoughts. I began to form
conjectures as to the- nature of the scheme to which my sup-
pression of the truth was to be thus made subservient. It
s;;enied as if I.vrcre walking in tlie dark and might rush into
ARTHUR MERVYN. <5f
snares or drop into pits before I was aware of my danger.
Each moment accumulated my doubts and I cherished a
Sfcret foreboding that the event would prove my new situa-
tion to be far less fortunate than I liad, at first, fondly
believed. The question now occurred, with painful repetition,
Who and what was Welbeck? What was his relation to
this foreign lady? What was the service for which I was to
I could not be contented without a solution of these mys-
teries. Why should I not lay my soul open before my new
friend? Considering my situation, would he regard my fears
and my surmises as criminal? I felt that they originated in
laudable habits and views. My peace of mind depended on
the favourable verdict which conscience should pass on my
proceedings. I saw the em,p,tines3 of fame and luxury when
put in the balance against the recompense of virtue. Never
would I purchase the blandishments of adulation and the
glare of opulence at the price of my honesty.
Amidst these reflections the dinner-hour arrived. The
lady and Welbeck were present. A new train of sentiments
now occupied my mind. I regarded them both Avith inquisi-
tive eyes. I cannot well account for the revolution which
had taken place in my mind. Perhaps ^t was a proof of the
capriciousness of my temper, or it was merely the fruit of
my profound ignorance of life and manners. Whencever it
arose, certain it is that I contemplated the scene before me
with altered eyes. Its order and pomp was no longer the
parent of tranquility and awe. My wild reveries of inherit-
ing this splendour and appropriating the affections of this
nymph, I now regarded as lunatic hope and childish folly.
Education and nature had qualified me for a different scene.
This might be the mask of misery and the structure of vice.
My companions as well as myself were silent during the
meal. The lady retired as soon as it was finished. My inex-
plicable melancholy increased. It did not pass unnoticed by
Welbeck, who inquired, with an air of kindiies?, into th«
70 ARTHUR MERVYN.
cause of my visible dejection. I am almost ashamed to
relate to what extremes my folly transported me. Instead of
answering him I was weak enough to shed tears.
This excited afresh his surprise and his sympathy. He
renewed his inquiries: my heart was full, but how to disbur-
then it I knew not. At length, with some difficulty, I
expressed my wishes to leave his house and return into the
" What," he asked, " had occurred to suggest tliis new
plan? What motive could incite me to bur) myself in rustic
obscurity? How did I purpose to dispose of myself? Had
some new friend sprung up more able or more willing to
benefit me than he had been?"
'' No," I answered, " I have no relation who would own
me, or friend who would protect. If I went mto the country-
it would be to the toilsome occupations of a day-labourer:
but even that was better than my present situation."
" This opinion," he observed, " must be newly formed.
What was there irksome or offensive in my present mode of
That this man condescended to expostulate with me ; to
dissuade me from my new plan ; and to enumerate the benefits
•which he was v/illing to confer, penetrated my heart with
gratitude. I could not but acknowledge that leisure and litera-
ture, copious and elegant accommodation were valuable for
their own sake: that all the delights of sensation and refine-
ments of inteHiv,tnce were comprised within my present
sphere ; and would be nearly wanting in that to which I was
going ; I felt temporary compunction for my folly, and deter-
mined to adopt a different deportment. I could not prevail
upon my?elf to unfold the true cause of my dejection, and
permitted him therefore to ascribe it to a kind of homesick-
nt-ss; to inexperience; and to tli.it ignorance which, on being
us1:ered into a new sc^ne, is oppressed with a sensntion of for-
lornn:iss. He remarked that these chimeras would vanish
before the influence of time, and company, and occupation.
ARTHUR MERV\^. 71
On the next week he would furnish me with employment;
meanwhile he would Introduce me into company where intel-
ligence and vivacity would combine to dispel my glooms.
As soon as we separated, miy disquietudes returned. I con-
tended with them in vain and finally resolved to abandon m.y
present situation. When and how this purpose was to be
effected I knew not. That was to be the theme of future
Evening having arrived, Welbeck proposed to me to
accdm-pany him on a visit to one of his friends. I cheerfully
accepted the invitation and went with him to your friend
Mr. Wortley's. A numerous party was assembled, chiefly
of the female sex. I was introduced by Welbeck by the
title of a young friend of bis. Notwithstanding my embar-
rassment I did not fall to attend to what passed on this occa-
sion. I remarked that the utmost deference was paid to my
companion, on whom his entrance into this company appeared
to operate like magic. His eye sparkled; his features
expanded into a benign serenity ; and his wonted reserve gave
place to a torrent-like and overflowing elocution.
I marked this change in his deportment with the utmost
astonishment. So great was it, that I could hardly persuade
myself that it was the same person. A mind thus suscep-
tible of new impressions must be, I conceived, of a won-
-iful texture. Nothing was further from my expectations
than that tliis vivacity was mere dissimulation and would take
its leave of him when he left the company: yet this I found
to be the case. Ths door was no sooner closed after him than
his accustomed solemnity returned. He spake little, and
tliat little was delivered with emphatical and monosyllabic
We returned home at a late hour, and I immediately
retired to my chamber, not so much from the desire of repose
as in order to enjoy and pursue my own reflections without
71 ARTHUR MERVYN.
The condition of my mind was considerably remote froi»
happiness. I was placed in a scene that furnished fuel to
my curiosity. This passion is a source of pleasure, provided
its gratification be practicable. I had no reason, in my pre-
sent circumstances, to despair of knowledge; yet suspicion
and anxiety beset me. I thought upon the delay and toil
which the removal of my ignorance would cost, and reaped
only pain and fear from the reflection.
The air was remarkably sultry. Lifted sashes and lofty
ceilings were insufficient to attemper it. The perturbation
of my thoughts affected my body, and the heat which op-
pressed me, was aggravated, by my restlessness, almost into
fever. Some hours were thus painfully past, when I recol-
lected that the bath, erected in the court belov/, contained
a sufficient antidote to the scorching influence of the atmos-
I rose, and descended the stairs softly, that I might not
alarm Welbeck and the lady, who occupied the two room.s
on the second floor. I proceeded to the bath, and filling the
reservoir with water, speedily dissipated the heat that incom-
moded me. Of all species of sensual gratification, that was
the most delicious ; and I continued for a long time, laving
my limbs and moistening my hair. In the midst of this
amusement, I noticed the approach of day, and immediately
saw the propriety of returning to my chamber. I returned
with the same caution which I had used in descending; my
feet were bare, so that it was ea?y to proceed unattended by
the smallest signal of my progress.
I had reached the carpetted staircase, and was slowly-
ascending, when I heard, within the chamber that was occu-
pied by the lady, a noise, as of some one moving. Though
not concious of having acted improperly, yet I felt reluc-
tance to be seen. There was no reason to suppose that this
sound was connected with the detection of me, in this situa-
tion ; yet I acted as if this reason existed, and made haste
to pa^i the door and gain the second flight of steps.
ARTHUR MERVYN. 73
I was unable to accomplish my design, when the chamber
door slowly opened, and Welbeck, with a light in his hand,
came out. 1 was abashed and disconcerted at this Interview.
He started at seeing me ; but discovering in an instant who
it was, his face assumed an expression in which shame and
anger were powerfully blended. He seemed on the point of
opening his mouth to rebuke me; but suddenly checking
himself, he said, in a tone of mildness, " How is this? —
Whence come you?"
His emotion seemed to communicate itself, with an elec-
trical rapidity, to my heart. My tongue faltered while I
made some answer. I said, " I had been seeking relief from
the heat of the weather, in the bath." He heard my expla-
nation in silence: and, after a moment's pause, passed into
his own room, and shut himself in. I hastened to my cham-
A different observer might have found in these circumstan-
ces no food for his suspicion or his wonder. To me, how-
ever, they suggested vague ard tum.ultuous ideas.
As I strode across the room I repeated, " This woman is
his daughter. What proof have I of that? He once assert-
ed it; and has frequently uttered allusions and hints from
which no other inference could be drawn. The chamber
from which he came, in an hour devoted to sleep, was hers.
For what end could a visit like this be paid? A parent may-
visit his child at all seasons, without a crim.e. On seeing
me, methou^ht his features indicated more than surprise.
A keen interpreter would be apt to suspect a conciousness of
wrong. What if this woman be not his child 1 How sl:ail
their relationship be ascertained?"
I was summontd at the customary hour to breakfast. My
mind was full of ideas connected with this incident. I was
not endowed with sufficient firmness to propose the cocl and
systematic observation of this man's deportment. I i(-At as
if the state of my' mind could net but be evident to hi.;^;
and experienced in myseif all th.e confusion which this uis-
74 ARTHUR MERVYN.
covery was calculated to produce in him. 1 would liave
■willingly excused myself from meeting him ; but that was
At breakfast, after the usual salutations, nothing was said.
For a time I scarcely lifted my eyes from the table. Steal-
ing a glance at Welbeck, I discovered in his features nothing
but his wonted gravity. He appeared occupied with thoughts
that had no relation to last night's adventure. This encou-
raged me; and I gradually recovered my composure. Their
inattention to me allowed me occasionally to throw scrutiniz-
ing and comparing glances at the face of each.
The relationship of parent and child is commonly disco-
verable in the visage; but the child may resemble eitlicr of
its parents, yet have no feature in common with both. Here
outlines, surfaces, and hues were in absolute contrariety.
Tliat kindred subsisted between them was possible, notwitli-
standlng this dissimilitude: but this circumstance contri-
buted to envenom my suspicicns.
Breakfast being finished, Welbeck cast an eye of invita-
tion to th.e piano forte. The lady rose to conv,)ly with his
request. My eye chanced to be, at that moment, fixed on her.
In stepping to the instrument some motion or ajjpearance
av/akened a thought in my mind, which affected my feelings
like the shock of an eartl.quake.
1 have too slight acquaintance with tlie history of the pas-
sions to truly cxpUiin the emotion which now throbbed in my
veins. 1 had bcrtn a stranger to what is called love. From
subsequent reflection, I have contractetl a ;suspicion, thiat the
sentiment with which 1 regarded this laciy was not untinctured
from this source, and that h.ence arose the turbulence of Uiy
feelings, on observing what I construed into maiks of preg-
nancy. The evidence alTorlcd me was slight; yet it exer-
cised an absolute swa; over my bckuf.
It was well that this siispic on h id not b^-cn sooner excited.
Now civility di i no r quire iry stay in ih • ;'];:irtmerit, and
nothing but flight .ould conceii the state of ny mind.. I
ARTHUR JfERVTX. 75
hastened, therefore, to a distance, and shroaded myself in
the friendly secrecy cf my own chamber.
llie constitution of my mind is doubtless singidar and per-
verse; yet that opinion, perhaps, is the fruit of n;y ignorance.
It may by no means be uncommon for men to fashion their
concIusicDs in opposition to evidence and probabiUtyj and so
as to feed their malice and subvert their happiness. Thus it
was, in an eminent degree, in my case. The simple fact was
connected, in my mind, with a train cf the most hateful con-
sequences. The depravit}^ of Welbeck was inferred from
it. The charms cf this aiigeiic woman were tarnished and
withered. I had formerly surveyed her as a precicirs and per-
fect monument, but now it was a scene of ruin and bisst.
This had been a source of sufficient anguish ; but this was
not all. I recollected that the claims of a parent had been
urged. Will you believe that these claims Avere now admit-
ted, and that they heightened the iniquity of Welbeck into
the blackest and most stupendous of all crimes? These ideas
were necessarily transient. Conclusions more conformable
Xr. sppcsrai;cc5 sVfCcrrtrrd. Tttts lady rr^ight nave been lately
reduced to widowhood. The recent less of a beloved com-
panion would sufficiently account for lier dejection, and make
her present situation compatible with duty.
By this new train cf ideas I was scmewh.at ccmfcrted. I
•saw the folly of precipitate inferences, and the injustice cf my^
atrocious im.putaticns, and acquired some degree of patience
in my present st?.te cf uncertainty. inIy heart was lightened
ef i's wcnted burthen, and 1 laborrcd to irvent seme harm-
h'ss e>;plication cf ihe scene that I had witnessed tee prcc^J-
ing night. .
At dinner Welbeck appeared as usual, but net the la.'y.
I ascribed her absence to some casual indisp&sition, and ven-
tured to inquire into the state of her health. My ccmpanioa
said she was well, bat that she had left the c;ty fcr a mnntb
or two, finding the heat of summer inconvenient where ■she
was. Thii w;is no unplauslble reason for retii-emer-c. A
7^ AUTITUR MERVYX.
< aiiJ.id m:n:l would have HC(]U'Csced in this representation, and
found in it nothlnj^- incons'.ittnt with a supposition respecting
the cause of appeiirances favourable to her character ; but
otiierwise was I afTected. The uneas'ness which had flown
lor a moment returned, and I sunk into gloomy silence.
From this I was rousftd by my patron, who requested me
to deliver a billet, which he put into my hand, at the countin^;-
liouse of Mr. Tiietford, and to bring him an answer. This
message was speedily performed. 1 entered a large building
by the river side. A spacious apartment presented itself,
well furnished with pipes and hogsheads. In one corner was
a smaller room, in v^hich a gentleman was busy at writing. I
advanced to the door of the room, but was there met by a
young person, who received my paper, and delivered it to him
within. I stood still at the door; but was near enough to
overhear what would pass betvv^cen them.
The letter was laid upon the desk, and presently he that
sat at it lifted his eyes, and glanced at the superscription. He
scarcely spoke above a whisper, but his words, nevertheless,
were clearly distin^^uisliable. I did not call to mind the sound
of his voice, but his words called up a train of recollections.
*' Lo!" said he, carelessly, " this from the Nabobs
An incident so slight as this v/as sufficient to open a spa-
cious scene of meditation. This little word, half whispered
in a thoughtless mood, was a key to unlock an extensive cabi-
net of secrets. Thetford was probably indlffv-'rcnt whether
his pxcl.imation were overheard. Little did he think on the
ijiftrejices which would be built upon it.
*' The Nabob!" By this appi:llation had some one been
dtnoted in the chaniber-dialoiiue, of which I had been an
unsuspected auditor. The man who pretended poverty, and
yet gave proofs of inordinate wealth ; whom it was pardona-
ble to defraud of thirty thousand dollars; first, because the
loss of that sum would be trivial to one opulent as he; and
secondly, becaus-: he was imagined to have acquired this opu-
If.nce by other than honest methods. Instead of forthwith
ARTHUR IVIERVYN. 77
returning heme, I wandered into the fields, to indulge my-
self in the new thoughts which were produced by this occur-
I entertained no doubt that the person alluded to was iry
patron. No new light v/as thrown upon his character; unless
something were deducible from the charge vaguely made,
that his wealth Avas the fruit of illicit practices. He was
opulent, and the sources of his wealth were unknown, if not
to the rest of the community, at least to Thetford. But
here had a plot been laid. Tiic fortune of Thetford's bro-
ther was to rise from the success of artifices, of which the
credulity of Welbeck was to be the victim. To detect
and to counterwork this plot was obviously my duty. My
interference might now indeed hz too late to be useful; but
this was at least to be ascertained by experiment.
How should my intention be effected ? I had hitherto con-
cealed from Welbeck my adventures at Thetford's house.
These it was now necessary to disclose, and to mention the
recent occurrence. My deductions, in consequence of my
ignorance, might be erroneous ; but of their truth his know-
ledge of his ov»'n affairs would enable him to judge. It was
possible that Thetford and he, whose chamber-conversation
T had overheard, were different persons. I endeavoured in
vain to ascertain their identity by a comparison of their
voices. The words lately heard, my remembrance did not
enable me certainly to pronounce to be uttered by the same
This uncertainty was of little moment. It sutHced that
Welbeck was designated by this appellation, and that there-
fore he v/as proved to be the subject of some fraudulent pro-
ceeding. The information that I possessed it was my duty
to communicate as expeditiously as possible. I was resolved
to employ the first opportunity that offered for this end.
My meditations had been ardently pursued, and, when I
recalled my attention, I found myself bewildered among"
78 J^RTHUR MERVYN.
fields :ind fences. It was late before I extricated myself
from unknown paths, and reached home.
I entered the parlour ; but Welbeck was not there. A
table, with tea-equipage for one person v/as set; from which
1 inferred that Welbeck was engaged abroad. This belief
was confirmed by the report of the servant. He could not
inform me where his master was, but merely that he should
not take tea at home. 7'hls incident was a source of vexa-
tion and impatience. 1 knew not but that delay would be of
the utmost moment to the safety of my friend. Wholly
unacquainted as I was with the nature of his contracts with
Thittbrd, I could not decide whether a single hour would
not avail to obviate the evils that threatened him. Had I
known whither to trace his footsteps, I should certainly have
sought an immediate interview; but, as it was, I was obliged
to wait with v/hat patience I could collect for his return to
his own house.
I waited hour after hour in vain. The sun declined, and
the shades of evening descended ; but Welbeck was still at
[ 79 ]
VV ELBECK did not return though hour succeeded
hour till the clock struck ten. I inquired of the servants,
who informed me that their master was not accustomed to
stay out so late. I seated myself at a table, in the parlour,
on which there stood a light, and listened for the signal of
his coming, either by the sound of steps on the pavement
without or by a peal from the bell. The silence vvas unin-
terrupted and profound, and each minute added to my sum
of impatience and anxiety.
To relieve myself from the heat of the weather, which
was aggravated by the condition of my thoughts, as well as
to beguile this tormenting interval, it occurred to me to
betake myself to the bath. I left the candle where it stood,
and imagined that even in the bath, I should hear the sound
of the bell which would be rung upon his arrival at the door.
No such signal occurred, and, after taking this refresh-
ment, I prepared to return to my- post. The parlour was
still unoccupied, but this was not all: the candle I had left
upon the table was gone. This was an inexplicVole circum-
stance. On my promise to wait for their master, the ser-
vants had retired to becK^ Ne signal of any one's entrance
had been given. The street door was locked and the key
hung at its customaiy place, upon the wall. What was I
to think? It wr-s obvious to s'jppose that the candle h'id been
83 ARTHUR MERVYN.
traced, and I v/as not sufficiently acquainted with the house
to find the way, especially immersed in darkness, to their
chamber. One measure, however, it was evidently proper
to take, which was to supply myself, anew, with a light.
This was instantly performed ; but what v>'as next to be done?
I was weary of the perplexities in which I was embroiled.
I saw no avenue to escape from them but that which led me
to the bosom of nature and to my ancient occupations. For
a moment I was tempted to resume my rustic garb, and, on
that very hour, to desert this habitation. One thing only de-
tained me;, the desire to apprize my patron of the treachery
of Thetford. For this end I was anxious to obtain an
interview; but 'now I reflected that this information, could,
by other means be imparted. Was it not sufficient to write
him briefly tiiese particulars, and leave him to profit by the
Jinowledge? Thus, I might, likewise, acquaint him with
my motives for thus abruptly and unseasonably deserting his
To the execution of this scheme pen and paper were neces-
sary. The business of writing was perf:5rmed in the chamber
on the third story. I had been hitherto denied access to this
room: In it was a show of papers and books. Here it wa^
that the task, for which I had been retained, was to be per-
formed ; but I was to enter it and leave it only in company
with Welbeck. For what reasons, I asked, was this pro-
cedure to be adopted?
The influence of proliibitions and an appearance of disguise
in awakening curiosity, are well known. My mind fastened
upon the idea of this room with an unusual degree of intense-
ness. I had seen it but for a moment. Many of Welbeck's
hours were spent in it. It was not to be inferred that they
were consumed in idleness: What then was the nature of
his cmploymt-nt over which a veil of such impenetrable
secrecy was cast?
Will you wonder that the design of cnterin,^' this recess
•was insensibly formed? Posoibly it was locked, but its acces-
ARTHUR :MERVYX. 8i
sibleness was likewise possible. I meant not the commission
of any crime. My principal purpose was to procure the
implements of writing-, vvhich were elsewhere not to be found.
I should neither unseal papers nor open drawers. I would
merely take a survey of the volumes and attend to the objects
that spontaneously presented themselves to my view. In
this there surely was nothing criminal or blameworthy.
Meanwhile I was not unrnindful of the sudden disappearance
of the candle. This incident fdled my bosom with the in-
quietudes of fear and the perturbations of wonder.
Once more I paused to catch any sound that might arise
from without. All was still. I seized the candle and pre-
pared to mount the stairs. I had not reached the first land-
ing when I called to mind my midnight meeting with Wel-
beck at the door of his daughter's chamber. The chamber
was now desolate: perhaps it was accessible: if so no injury
■was done by entering it. ^ly curiosity was strong, but it
pictured to itself no precise object. Three steps would
bear me to the door. The trial, whether it was faslroed,
lDi;;ht be made in a moment; and I readily imagined that
something might be found within to reward the trouble of
examination. The door yielded to my hand and I entered.
No remarkable object was discoverable. The apartment
was supplied v/ith the usual furniture. I bent my steps
towards a table over which a mirror was suspended. My
glances, which roved with svviftness from one object to ano-
ther, shortly lighted on a miniature portrait that hung near.
I scrutinized it with eagerness. It was impossible to over-
look its resemBl^nce to my own visage. This was so great
that, for a moment, I imagined myself to have been the
original from which it had been drawn. This flattering con-
ception yielded place to a belief merely of similitude between
me and the genuine original.
The thoughts which this opinion was fitted to produce
were suspended by a new object. A small volume, that
had, apparently, been much used, lay upon the toilet. I
S2 ARTHUR IMERVYN.
opened it, and found it to contain some of the Dramas of
Apostoio Zeno. I turned over the leaves: a Avritten paper
•aluted ray sight. A single glance informed me that it was
English. For the present I was insensible to all motives
that would command me to forbear. I seized the paper with
an intention to peruse it.
At that moment a stunning report was heard. It was loud
enough to shake the. walls of the apartment, and abrupt
enough to throw me into tremours. I dropped the book
and yielded for a moment to confusion and surprise. From
•what quarter it came, I was unable accurately to determine :
but there could be no doubt, from its loudness, that it was
near, and even in the house. It was no less manifest that
the sound arose from the discharge of a pistol. Some hand
must have drawn the trigger. I recollected the disappearance
of the candle from the room below. Instantly a supposition
darted into my mind which made my hair rise and my teeth
^This," I said, " is the deed of Welbeck. He entered
•while I was absent from the roomj he bled to his chamber;
and, prompted by some unknown instigation, has inflicted
on himself death!" This idea had a tendency to palsy my
limbs and my thoughts. Some time past in painful and
tumultuous fiuctuatlcn. My aversion to this catastrophe,
rather than a belief of being, by that means, able to pre-
vent or repair tlie evil, induced me to attempt to enter his
chamber. It was possible that my conjectures were erro-
The door of his room was locked. I knocked: I dc»
inaniied entr:ince in a low voice : I put my eye and m.y car
to the key-hole and the crevices: nothing could be heard or
atcn. It v/as unavoidable to conclude that no one was
within; yet the eliiuvia of gun-powder was perceptible.
Pt.rhai;s the room above had been the scene of this catas-
trophe. I ascended the second flight of stairs. I approcvhed
tl.v,' dpor. No iicund could be caught by ujy most vigilant
ARTHUR MERVYN. 85
attention. I put out the light tliat I carried, and was then
able to perceive that there was light within the room. I
scarcely knew how to act. For some minutes 1 paused at
the door. I spoke, and requested permission to enter. My
words were succeeded by a death-like stillness. At length I
ventured softly to withdraw the bolt; to open and to advance
within tlis room. Nothmg could exceed the horror of my
expectation ; yet I was startled by the scene that I beheld.
In a chair, w^hose back was placed against the front wall,
sat Welbeck. My entrance alarmed him not, nor roused
him from the stupor into which he was plunged. He rested
his hands upon his knees, and his eyes were rivetted to some-
thing that lay, at the distance of a few feet before him, on
the tioor. A second glance was sufiicient to inform me of
what nature this object was. It was the body of a man,
bleeding, ghastly, and still exhibiting the marks of convul-
sion and agony 1
I shall omit to describe the shock which a spectacle like
this communicated to mr unpractised senses. I was ^j^ly
as panic-struck and povverlcss as Welbeck himself. I gazed,
without power of speech, at one time, at Vv''elbeck : Then
I fixed terrified eyes on the distorted features of the dead.
At length, Wt.'lb-ck, recovering from his reverie, looked
up, as if to see who it was that had entered. No surprise,
no alarm, was betrayed by him on seeing me. He mani-
fested no desire or intention to interrupt the fearful silence.
My thoughts \y?n:lered in confusion and terror. Tj^
first impulse was to fly from the scene; bat I could not ?|)e
long Insensible to the exigencies of the m.oment. I saw
that affairs must not be suffered to remain in tb.eir oreseiit
situation. The insensibility or despair of Welbeck required
consolation and succour. How to communicate my thoughts,
or offer my assistance, I knew not. What led to tiiis mur-
derous catastrophe ; who it was whose breathless corpse was
before me; what concern Welbeck hud in producing his
death ; were as yet unknown.
84 ARTHUR JIERVYN.
At length he rose from his seat, and strode at first with
faltering, and then with more steadfast steps, across the
floor. This motion seemed to put him in possession of him-
self. He seemed now, for the first time, to recognize my
presence. He turned to me and said in a tone of* severity:
" How now! What brings you here?"
This rebuke was unexpected. 1 stammered out in reply,
that the report of the pistol had alarmed me, and that I
came to discover the cause of it.
He noticed not my answer, but resumed his perturbed
steps, and his anxious, but abstracted looks. Suddenly he
checked himself, and glancing a furious eye at the corse, he
muttered, " Yes, the die is cast. This worthless and mise-
rable scene shall last no longer. I will at once get rid of
life and all its humiliations."
Here succeeded a new pause. The course of his thoughts
seemed now to become once more tranquil. Sadness, rather
th anjfu rv, overspread his features; and his accent, when he
spcjBRo me, was not faltering, but solenm.
" Mervyn," said he, " you comprehend not this scene.
Your youth and inexperience make you a stranger to a deceit-
ful and flagitious world. You know me not. It is time
that this ignorance should vanish. The knowledge of me
and of my actions may be of use to you. It may teach you
to avoid the shoals on which my virtue and my peace have
been wrecked; but to the rest of mankind it can be of no
use. 'I'he ruin of my fame is, perhaps, irretrievable ; but the
hciglit of my iniquity need not be known. I perceive in you
a rectitude and firmness worthy to be trusted; promise me,
therefore, that not a syllable of what I tell you shall ever
pass your lips."
I had lately experienced the inconvenience of a promise;
but I was now confused, embarrassed, ardently inquisitive
as to the nature of this scene, and unapprized of the motives
that mi^^ht afttrw.u-Js occur, persuuulii'; or compelling me
ARTHUR MERVYN. «5
to disclosure. The promise which he exacted was given.
" I have detained you in my service, partly for your own
benefit, but chiefly for mine. I intended to inflict upon you
injury, and to do you good. Neither of these ends can I
now accomplish, unless the lessons which my example may
inculcate shall inspire you with fortitude, and arm you with
" What it was that made me thus, I know not. I am
not destitute of understanding. My thirst of knowledge,
though irregular, is ardent. I can talk and can feel as vir-
tue and justice prescribe; yet the tenor of my actions has
been uniform. One tissue of Iniquity and folly has been my
life ; while my thoughts have been familiar with enlightened
and disinterested principles. Scorn and detestation I have
heaped upon myself. Yesterday is remembered with remorse.
To-morrow is contemplated with anguish and fear; yet every
day is productive of the same crimes and of the same follies.
" I was left, by the insolvency of my father (a tra4|pDf
Liverpool,) without any means of support, but such as
labour should aflford me. Whatever could generate pride,
and the love of independence, was my portion. Whatever
can incite to diligence was the growth of my condition ; yet
my indolence was a cureless disease ; and there were no arts
too sordid for me to practise.
" 1 was content to live on the bounty of a kinsman. His
family was numerous, and his revenue small. He forebore
to upbraid me, or even to insinuate the propriety of provid-
ing for myself; but he empowered me to pursue any liberal
or mechanical profession which might suit my taste. I was
insensible to every generous motive. I laboured to forget
my dependent and disgraceful condition, because the remem-
brance was a source of anguish, without being able to inspire
me with a steady resolution to change it.
*^ I contracted an acquaintance with a woman who was
Miichaste, perverse and malignant. Me, however, she found
S6 ARTHUR MERVYN.
It no difficult task to deceive. My nncle remonstrated
against the union. He took infinite pains to unveil my
error, and to convince me that wedlock was improper for
one destitute, as I was, of the means of support, even if
tlie object of my choice were personally unexceptionable.
" His representations were listened to with an ^er. That
he thwarted my will, in this respect, even by aiFectionate
expostulation, cancelled all that debt of gratitude which I
owed to him. I rewarded him for all his kindness by invec-
tive and disdam, and hastened to complete my ill-omened
marriaoe. 1 had deceived the woman's father by assertions
of possessing secret resources. To gratify my passion I
descended to dissimulation and falsehood. He admitted me
into his family, as the husband of his child; but the charac-
ter of my wife and the fallacy of my assertions were quickly
discovered. He denied me accommodation under his roof,
and I was turned forth to the world to endure the penalty of
myrashness and my indolence.
^j^emptation would have moulded me into any villainous
shape. My virtuous theories and comprehejisive erudition
would not have saved me from the basest of crimes. Luckily
for me,'^i was, for the present, exempted from temptation.
1 had formed an acquaintance with a young American cap-
tain. On being partially iniVrmed of my situation, he
invited me to embark with him for his own country. My
passage was gratuitous. I arrived, in a short time, at
CTiiWeston, which was the place of his abode.
" He introduced me to his family, every member of which
was, like hl'ihself, imbued with affection and benevolence.
I was treated like their son and brother. I was hospitably
cntertaiiied until I sliould be able to select some path of
lucrative indiistiy. Such was my incurable depravity, that
made no haste to select my pursuit. An interval of inoccu-
pation succeeded, which I applied to the worst purposes.
" My friend had a sister, who was married; but, during
■:he absence of her husband resided with her family. Hence
ARTHUR :^IERVYX. 87
originated our acquaintance. The purest of human hearts
and the most vigorous understanding were ht-rs. She idolized
her husbar.d, who well deserved to be the object of her ado-
ration. Her aifection for him, and her general principles,
appeared to be confirmed beyond the power to be shaken. I
sought her intercourse without illicit vievv^s: 1 delighted in
the effusions of her candour and the flashes of her intelli-
gence : I conformed, by a kind of instinctive hypocrisy, to
her views: I spoke and felt from the influence of immediate
and momentary conviction. She imagined she had found in
me a friend worthy to partake in all her sympathies, and for-
ward all her wishes. We were mutually deceived. She
was the victim of self-delusion ; but I must charge myself
with practising deceit both upon myself and her.
" I reflect with astonishment and horror on the steps which
led to her degradation and to my calamity. In the high
career of passion all consequences were overlooked. She was
the dupe of the most audacious sophistry and the grossest
delusion. I was the slave of sensual impulses and vol^^ary
blindness. The effect may be easily cor.ceived. Not till
symptoms of pregnancy began to appear were our eyes opened
to the ruin wh"ch impended over us.
'' Then I begm to revolve the conseq lences, which the
mist of passion had hitherto concealed. I was tormented by
the pangs of remorse, and pursued by tlie phantom of ingra-
titude. To complete my despair, this unfortunate lady v.'as
apprised of my marriage with another woman ; a circumstance
which I had anxiously concealed from her. She fitd from
her father's house at a time when her husband and brother
were hourly exp^rcted. What became of her I kn^w not.
She left behind her a letter to her father, in which the melan-
choly truth was told.
" Shame and remorse had no power over my life. To
elude the storm of invective and upbraiding; to quiet tlie
uproar of my mind, I did not betake myself to voluntary
death. My pusillanimity still clung to this wretched exis-
S« ARTHUR MERVYK
tence. I abruptly retired from the scene, and, repairing to
the port, embarked in the first vessel \vhich appeared. The
ship chanced to belong to Wilmington, in Delaware, and
here I sou^iiL out an obscure and cheap abode.
" I possessed no means of subsistence. I was unknown to
my neighbours, and desired to remain unknown. 1 was unqua-
lilicd for manual labour by all the habits of my life ; but tiiere
was no choice between penury and diligence — between honest
labour and crim nal inactivity, I mused incessantly on the
forlornncss of my condition. Hour after hour passed, and
tiie horrors of want benan to encomr^ass me. I souo;ht with
d 1 O
eagerness for an avenue by which I might escape from it.
The pervcrsness of my nature led me on from one guilty
thought to anotlicr. I took rtfuge in my customary sophis-
tries, and recoiicikd m}self at length to a scheme cf--/cr-
[ 89 ]
XXAVING ascertained my purpose, It was requi-
site to search out the means by which I might effect it.
These were not clearly or readily suggested. The more I
contemplated my project, the more numerous and arduous
its difficulties appeared. I had no associates in my under-
taking. A due regard to my safety and the unextinguished
sense of honour deterred me from seeking auxiliaries aflH co-
agents. The esteem of mankind was the spring of all my
activity, the parent of all my virtue and all my vice. To
preserve this, it was necessary that my guilty projects should
have neither witness nor partaker
I quickly discovered that to execute this scheme demanded
time, application and money, none of which my present situ-
ation would permit me to devote to it. At first, it appeared
that an attainable degree of skill and circumspection would
enable me to arrive, by means of counterfeit bills, to the
phinacle of affluence and honour. My error was detected
by a closer scrutiny, and I, finally, saw nothing in this path
but enormous perils and insurmountable impediments.
Yet what alternative was offered me. To maintain myself
by the labour of my hands, to perform any toilsome or pre-
scribed task, was incompatible with my nature. My habits
debarred me from countr}^ occupations. My pride regarded
as vile and ignominous drudgery any employment which the
90 ARTHUR MERVYN.
town could aiFord. Meanwhile, my wants were as urgent as.
ever and my funds were exhausted.
There are few, perhaps, whose external situation resem-
bled mine, who would have found in it any thing but incite-
ments to industry and invention. A thousand methods of
subsistence, honest but laborious, were at my command, but
to these I entertained an irreconcilable aversion. Ease and
the respect attendpnt upon opulence I was willing to purchase
at the price of ever- wakeful suspicion and eternal remorse ;
but, even at this price, the purchase was impossible.
The desparateness of my condition became hourly more
apparent. The further I extended my view, the darker grew
the clouds which hung over futurity. Anguish and infamy
appeared to be the inseparable conditions of my existence.
There was one mode of evading the evils that impended. To
free myself from self-upbraiding and to shun the persecutions
of my fortune was possible only by shaking off life itself.
One evening, as I traversed the bank of the creek, these
dismal meditations were uncommonly intense. They at
length terminated in a resolution to throw myself into the
stream. The first impulse was to rush instantly to my death,
but the remembrance of papers, lying at my lodgings, which
might unfold more than I desired to the curiosity of survi-
vors, induced me to postpone this catastrophe till the next
My purpose being formed, I found my heart lightened of
its usual weight. By you it will be thought strange, bwt it
is nevertheless true, that I derived from this new prospect,
not only tranquility but cheerfulness. I hastened home.
As soon as I entered, my land-lord informed me that a per-
son had been searching for me in my absence. This was an
unexampled incident and forboded me no good. I was
strongly persuaded that my visitant had been led hither not
by friendly, but hostile purposes. This persuasion was con-
firmed by the description of the stranger's guize and demea-
»9.ur given by my land-lord. My feara instantly recognized
ARTHUR MERVYN. 91
the image of Watson, the man by whom I had been so emi-
nently benefitted, and whose kindness I had compensated by
the ruin of his sister and the confusion of his family.
An interview with this man was less to be endured than to
look upon the face of an avenging deity. I was determined to
avoid this interview, and for this end, to execute my fatal
purpose within the hour. My papers v/ere collected with a
tremulous hand, and consigned to the flames. I then bade my
land-lord inform all visitants that I should not return till the
next day, and once more hastened towards the river.
My way led past the Inn where one of the stages from
Baltimore was accustomed to stop. I was not unaware that
Watson had possibly been brought in the coach which had
recently arrived, and which now siood before the door of the
Inn. The danger of my being descried or encountered by
him as I passed did not fail to occur. This was to be eluded
by deviating from the main street.
Scarcely had I turned a corner for this purpose when I
was accosted by a young man whom I knew to be an inhabi
tant of the town, but with whom I had hitherto had no
intercourse but what consisted in a transient salutation. He
apologized for the liberty of addressing me, and, at the same
time, inquired if I understood the French language.
Being answered in the affirmative, he proceeded to tell me,
that in the stage, just arrived, had come a passenger, a youth
who appeared to be French, who was wholly unacquainted
with our language, and who had been seized with a violent
My informant had felt compassion for the forlorn condi-
tion of the stranger, and had just been seeking me at my lodg-
ings, in hope that my knowledge of French would enable me to
converse with the sick man, and obtain from him a knowledge
of his situation and views.
The apprehensions I had precipitately formed, were thus
removed and I readily consented to perform this service.
The youth was, indeed, in a deplorable condition. Besides
r- ARTHUR MERVYN.
the pains of his disease, he was overpowered by dejection.
The inn-keeper, was extremely anxious for the removal of
his guest. He was by no means willing- to sustain the trouble
and expense of a sick or a dying man, for which it was,
scarcely probable that he should ever be reimbursed. The
traveller had no baggage and his dress betokened the pressure
of many wants.
My compassion for this stranger was powerfully awakened.
I was in possession of a suitable apartment, for which I had
no power to pay the rent that was accruing, but my inability
in this respect was unknown, and I might enjoy my lodgings
unmolested for some weeks. The fate of this youth would
be speedily decided, and I should be left at liberty to execute
my first intentions before my embarrassments should be visl-
After a moment's pause, I conducted the stranger to my
home, placed him in my own bed, and became his nurse.
His malady was such as is known in the tropical islands, by
the name of the Yellow or Malignant Fever, and the physi-
cian who was called, speedily pronounced his case desperate.
It was my duty to warn him of the death that was hasten-
ing, and to promise the fulfillment of any of his wishes, not
inconsistent with my present situation. He received my
intelligence with fortitude, and appeared anxious to commu-
nicate some information respecting his own state. His pangs
and his weakness scarcely allowed him to be intelligible.
From his feeble efforts and broken narrative I collected thus
much concerning his family and fortune.
His father's name was Vincentio Lodi. From a Merchant
at Leghorn, he had changed himself into a planter in the
Island of Guadaloupe. His Son, had been sent, at an early
age, for the benefits of education to Europe. The young
Vincentio was, at length, informed by his father, that, being
weary of his present mode of existence, he had determined
to sell Ills property, and transport himself to the United States.
The son was directed to hasten home, that he might embark,
with his father, on this voyage.
ARTHUR MERVYN. 93
The summons was cheerfully obeyed. The youth on his
arrival at the Island found preparation making for the funeral
of his father. It appeared that the elder Lodi had flattered
one of his slaves with the prospect of his freedom, but had,
nevertheless, included this slave in the sale that he had made
of his estate. Actuated by revenge, the slave assassinated
Lodi in the open street and resigned himself, without a strug-
gle, to the punishment which the law, had provided for such a
Tlie property had been recently tran?ferred, and the price
was now presented to young Vincentio by the purchaser.
Ke was, by no means, inclined to adopt his father's project,
and was impatient, to return with his inheritance, to France.
Before this could be done, the conduct of h'.s father had ren-
dered a voyage to the continent indispensable.
Lodi had a daughter, wiiom, a few weeks previous to his
death, he had intrusted to an American Captain, for whom, he
had contracted a friendship. The vessel was bound to Phila-
delphia, but the conduct she was to pursue, and the abode
she was to select, on her arrival, were known only to the
father, whose untimely death involved the son in considerable*
uncertainty, with regard to his sister's fate. His anxiety on
this account induced him to seize the first conveyance that
offered. In a short time he landed at Baltimore.
As soon as he recovered from the fatigues of his voyage,
he prepared to go to Philadelphia. Thither his baggage
■was immediately sent under the protection of a passenger
and countryman. His money consisted in Portuguese gold,
■which, in pursuance of advice, he had changed into Bank-
notes. He besought me, in pathetic terms, to search out
his sister, whose youth and poverty and ignorance of the
language and manners of the country might expose her to
innumerable hardships. At the same time, he put a pocket-
book and small volume into my hand, indicating, by his
countenance and gestures, his desire that I would deliver
them to his sister.
5>4 ARTHUR MERVYN.
His obsequies being decently performed, I had leisure t®
reflect upon the change in my condition which this incident
had produced. In the pocket-book were found bills to tlie
amount of twenty tlious-:ind dollars. The volume proved to
be a manuscript, written by the elder Lodi in Italian, and
contained memoirs of the Ducal house of Vlsconti, from
whom the writer believed himself to have lineally descended.
Thus had I arrived, by an avenue so much beyond my
foresight, at the possession of wealth. The evil whicii im-
pelled me to the brink of suicide, and which was the- source,
though not of all, yet of the larger portion of my anguish, was
now removed. What claims to honour or to ease were con-
sequent on riches, were, by an extraordinary fortune, now
conferred upon me.
Such, for a time, were my new born but transitory rap-
tures. I forgot that this money was not mine. That it had been
received under every sanction of fidelity, for another's use.
To retain it was equivalent to robbery. The sister of the
deceased was the rightful claimant: it was my duty to search
her out, and perform my tacit, but sacred obligations, by put-
ing the whole into her possession.
This conclusion was too adverse to my wishes, not to be
strenuously combatted. I asked, what it was that gave man
the power of ascertaining the successor to his property ? Dur-
ing his life, he might transfer the actual possession, but if
vacant at his death, he, into whose hands accident should
cast it, was the genuine proprietor. It is true, tliat the law
had sometimes otherwise decreed, but in lav/, there was no
validity, further than it was able by investigation and pun-
ishment, to enforce its decrees; But would the law extort
this money from me|?
It was rather by gesture than by words that the will of
Lodi was imparted. It was the topic of remote inferences
and vague conjecture rather than of explicit and unerring
declarations. Besides if the lady were found, would not
prudence dictate the reservation of her fortune to be admini-
ARTHUR JIERVYN. 95
stered by me, for her benefit? Of this her age and education
had disqualified hcrscli*. It Wds sufiicient for the mainte-
nance oi" both. Slie would regard me as her benefactor and
proirc tor. By supplying all her wants and watching- over her
safety witnou: apprizai^- lier of the means, by which 1 shall
be en.ibled to do this, 1 shall lay irresistible claims to her love
and her gratitude.
Such were the sophistries by which reason was seduced
and my integrity annihilated. I hastened away from my
preicat abode. I easily traced the bagg-age of the deceased
to an inn, and gained poss-ss;on of it. It contained nothing
but clothes and books. I then instituted the most diligent
search afcer the young lady. For a time, my exertions were
Meanwhile, the possessor of this house th.ought proper to
embark with bis family for Europe. The sum which he
demanded for his furniture, though enormous, was precipi-
tately paid by roe. His servants were continued in their for-
mer stations, and in the day, at which he relinquished the
mansion, I entered ow possession.
There was no diificuity m persuading the world that Wel-
beck was a personage of opulence and rank. My birth and
previous adventures it was proper to conceal. The facility
.With which man:;lnd are misled in their estimate of charac-
ters, their proneness to multiply inferences and conjectures
will not be readily conceived by one destitute of my experi-
ence. My sudden appearance on the stage, my stately
reserve, my splendid habitation and my circumspect deport-
ment were sufficient to intitle me to homage. The artifices
that were used to unveil the truth, and the guesses that were
current respecting me, were adapted to gratify my ruling
I did not remit my diligence to discover the retreat of
Mademoiselle Lodi, I found her, at length, in the family of
a kinsman of the Captain under whose care she had came to
America. Her situation was irksome and perilous. She had
9<5 ARTHUR MERVYN.
already experienced the evils of being protectorless and indi-
gent, and my seasonable interference snatched her from im-
pending and less supportable ills.
I could safely unfold all that I knew of her brother's his-
tory, except the legacy which he had left. I ascribed the
diligence with which I had sought her to his death-bed
injunctions, and prevailed upon her to accept from me the
treatment which she would have received from her brother,
if he had continued to live, and if his power to benefit had
been equal to my own.
Though less can be said in praise of the understanding,
than of the sensibilities of this woman, she is one, whom, no
one could refriin from loving, though placed in situations
far less favourable to the generation of that sentiment, than
mine. In habits of domestic and incessant intercourse, in
the perpetual contemplation of features animated by bound-
less gratitude and ineffable sympathies, it could not be ex-
pected that either she or I should escape enchantment.
The poison was too sweet not to be swallowed with avi-
dity by me. Too late I remembered that I was already
enslaved by inextricable obligations. It was easy to have
hidden this impediment from the eyes of my companion, but
here my integrity refused to yield. I can, indeed, lay claim
to little merit on account of this forbearance. If there had
been no alternutive between deceit and the frustration of my
hopes, I should doubtless have dissembled the truth with as
little scruple on this, as on a different occasion, but I could
not be blind to the weakness of her with whom I had to
[ 97 ]
Meanwhile large deductions had been
made from my stock of money, ^nd the remnant would be
speedily consumed by my present mode of life. My expen-
ces far exceeded my previous expectations. In no long time
I should be reduced to my ancient poverty, which the luxu-
rious existence that I now enjoyed, and the regard due to
my beloved and helpless companion, would render more irk-
some than ever. Some scheme to rescue me from this fate,
•was indispensable ; but my aversion to labour, to any pursuit,
the end oV srJiich was merely gain, and which would require
application and atter.Uo;? continued undiminished.
I was plunged anew into dejection and perplexity. From
this I was somewhat relieved by a plan suggested by Mr.
Thetford. I thought I had experience of his knowledge and
integrity, and the scheme that he proposed seemed liable to
no possibility of miscarriage. A ship was to be purchased,
supplied v/ith a suitable cargo, and" dispatched to a port in the
West-Indies. Loss from storms and enemies was to be pre-
cluded by insurance. Every hazard was to be enumerated,
and the ship and cargo valued at the highest rate. Should
the voyage be safely performed, the profits would be double
the original expense. Should the ship be taken or wrecked,
the insurers would have bound themselves to make ample,
speedy, and certain indemnification — Thetford's brother, a
wary and experienced trader, was to be the supercargo.
98 ARTHUR MERVl'N.
All my money was laid out upon this scheme. Scarcely-
enough was reserved to supply domestic and personal wants.
Large debts were likewise incurred. Our caution had, as we
conceived, annihilated every chance of failure. Too much
could not be expended on a project so infallible ; and the ves-
sel, amply fitted and freighted, departed on her veyage.
An interval, not devoid of suspense and anxiety, succeeded.
My mercantile inexperience made me distrust the clearness
of my own discernment, and I could not but remember, that
my utter and irretrievable destruction was connected with the
failure of my scheme. Time added to my distrust aad appre-
hensions. The time, at which tidings of the ship w*re to be
expected, elapsed without affording any information of her
destiny. My anxieties, however, were to be carefully hidden
from the world. I had taught mankind to believe, that this
project had been adopted more for amusement than gain ; and
the debts which I had contracted, seemed to arise from wil-
lingness to adhere to established maxims, more than from the
pressure of necessity.
Month succeeded month, and mtelligence was still with-
held. The notes which I had given for one third of the cargo,
and for the premium of insurance, would shortly become due.
For the payment of the former, and the cancelling of the
latter, 1 had relied upon the expeditious return, or the
demonstrated loss of the vessel. Neither of these events had
My cares were augmented from another quarter. My
companion's situation now appeared to be such, as» if our
intercourse had been sanctified by wedlock, would have been
regarded with delight. As it was, no symptoms were equally
to be dc pi ored. Consequences, as long as they were involved
in uncertainty, were extenuated or overlooked; but now,
■when they became apparent and inevitable, were fertile of
distress and upbraiding.
Indefinable fears, and a desire to monopolize all the medi-
tAuons anJ^afTcctions of this being, had induced me to per-
ARTHUR MERVYN. 99
peluate lier irnorance of any but her native language, and
debar her from all intercourse with the world. My friends
were of course inquisitive respecting her character, adven-
tures, and particularly her relation to me. The conscious-
ness how much the truth redounded to my dishonour, made
me solicitous to lead conjecture astray. For this purpose I
did not discountenance the conclusion that was adopted by
soire, that she was my daughter. I reflected, that all dan-
gerous surmizes would be effectually precluded by this belief.
These precautions afforded me some consolation in my pre-
sent difficulties. It was requisite to conceal the lady's
condition from the world. If this should be ineffectual, it
would not be difficult to divert suspicion from my person.-
The secrecy that 1 had practised would be justified, in the
apprehension of those to whom the personal condition of Gle-
menza should be disclosed, by the feelings of a rather.
Meanwhile, it was an obvious expedient to remove the
unhappy lady to a distance from Impertinent observers. A
rural retreat, lonely, and sequestered, was easily procured, and
hither she consented to repair. This arrangement being con-
certed, I had leisure to reflect upon the evils which every
hour brought nearer, and which threatened to exterminate me.
My inquietudes forbade me to sleep, and I was accustomed
to rise before day, and seek some respite hi the fields. Re-
turning from one of these unseasonable rambles, I chanced
to meet you. Your resemblance to the deceased Lodi, in
person and visage, is remarkable. When you first met my
eye, ihis similitude startled me. Your subsequent appeal to
my compassion was cloathed in such terms, as lOTmed a pow-
erful contrast with your dress, and prepossessed me greatly
in favour of your education and capacity.
In my present hopeless condition, ever)- incidftit, however
trivial, was attentively considered, with a Vieft to extract
from it some means of escaping from my difficulties. My
love for the Italian girl, in spite of all my efforts to keep it
alive, had begun to languish. Marriage waftrnpcssible ;
103 ARTITUR MERVYN.
and had now, in some degree, ceased to be desirable. We are
apt to judge of others by ourselves. The passion, I now
found myself disposed to ascribe chiefly to fortuitous circum-
stances; to the impulse of gratitude, and the exclusion of
competitors; and believed that your resemblance to her
brother, your age, and personal accomplishments, might,
after a certain time, and in consequence of suitable contri-
vances, on my part, give a new direction to her feelings. To
gain your concunrence, 1 relied upon your simplicity, your
gratitude, and your susceptibility, to the charms of this be-
I contemplated, likewise, another end. Mrs. Wentworth
Is rich. A youth who was once her favourite, and designed
to Inherit her fortunes, has disappeared, for some years, from
the scene. His death is most probable, but of that there is
no satisfactory Information. The life of this person, whose
name is Clavering, is an obstacle to some designs which had
occurred to mc in relation to this woman. My purposes were
crude and scarcely formed. I need not swell the catalogue
of my errors by expatiating upon them. Suffice it to say,
that the peculiar circum^.tances of your introduction to me,
led me to reflections on the use that mlgkt be made of your
agency, in procuring this lady's acquiescence in my schemes.
You were to be ultimacely persuaded to confirm in her the
belief that her nephew was dead. To this consummation it
was indispensible to lead you by slow degrees, and circuitous
paths. Me:ai\vhile, a profound silence, witli regard to your
genuine hlsj^jj^^, was to be observed ; and to this forbearance,
your coniQfR was obtained with more readiness than I
There was an additional motive for the treatment you
received fr^ mc.. My personal projects and cares had
hitherto prAentei me from reading Lodi's manuscript; a
slight inspeC.til^n, however, was suflicient to prove that the
work was ])rofound and eloquent. My ambition has panted,
with equal^'idity, after the reputation of literature and
ARTHUR MERVYN. loi
opulence. To claim the authorship of this work was too
harmless and specious a stratagem, not to be readily sug-
gested. I meant to translate it into English, and to enlarge
U by enterprising incidents of my own invention. My scru-
ples to assume the merit of the original composer, might thus
be removed. For this end, your assistance as an amanuensis
would be necessary.
You will perceive, that all these projects depended on
the seasonable arrival of intelligence from «. The
delay of another week would seal my destruction. The
silence might arise from the foundering of the ship, and the
destruction of all on board. In this case, the insurance was
not forfeited, but payment could not be obtained within a
year. Meanwhile, the premium and other debts must be
immediately discharged, and this was beyond my power.
Meanwhile I was to live in a manner that would not belie
my pretensions ; but my coffers were empty.
I cannot adequately paint the anxieties with which I have
been haunted. Each hour has added to the burthen of my
existence, till, in consequence of the events of this day, it has
become altogether insupportable. Some hours ago, I was
summoned by Thecford to his house. The messenger
informed me that tidings had been received of my ship. In
answer to my eager interrogations, he could give no other
information than that she had been captured by the Britisli.
He was unable to relate particulars.
News of her safe return would, indeed, have been far
more acceptable ; but even this information was a source of
infinite congratulation. It precluded the deflind of my
insurers. The payment of other debts might be postponed
for a month, and my situation be the same as before the
adoption of this successless scheme. Hope and* joy were
reinstated in my bosom, and I hasted to Thetfo^d's compt-
ing house. .*.
He received me with an air of gloomy dissatisfaction. I
accounted for his sadness by supposing him a\'Ae to com-
Jo^ ARTHUR MERVYN.
munlcate information, which was less favourable than our
Avishes had dictated. He confirmed, with visible reluctance,
the news of her capture; He had just received letters from
his brother, acquainting him with all particulars, and con .
taining the official documents of this transaction.
This had no tendency to damp my satisfaction, and I
proceeded to peruse with eagerness, the papers which he put
into my hand. I had not proceeded far when my joyous hopes
vanished. Two French mulattoes had, after much solicita-
tion, and the most solemn promises to cany with them no
articles which the laws of war decree to be contraband,
obtained a passage in the vessel. She was speedily encoun-
tered by a privateer, by whom every receptacle was ransacked.
In a chest, belonging to the Frenchmen, and whichthey had
affirmed to contain nothing but their clothes, were found
tv;o sabres, and other accoutrements of an officer of cavalry.
Under this pretence, the vessel was captured and condemned,
and this was a cause of forfeiture, which had not been pro-
vided against in the contract of insurance.
By this untoward event my hopes were irreparably blasted,
^he utmost efforts were demanded to conceal my thoughts
from my companion. The anguish that preyed upon my
heart v/as endeavoured to be masked by looks of indifTerence.
-I pretended to have been previously informed by the mes-
senger, not only of the capture, but of the cause that led to
it, and forbore to expatiate upon my loss, or to execrate the
Authors of niy disappointment. My mind, however, was the
theatre of discord and agony, and I waited with impatience
for an opp(miuilty to leave him.
For want of other topics, I asked by whom this informa-
tion had been brought. He answered, that the bearer was
Captain Amos Waison^ whose vessel had been forfeited, at
the svime tiijie, under a different pretence. He added, that
my name l^eing mentioned, accidentally, to Watson, the'
latter had betrayed marks of great surprise, and been very
earnest inSi3 inquiries respecting my situation. Having-
ARTHUR MERVYN. 103
obtained what knowledge Thetford was able to comiTmni-
cate, the captain had departed, avowing a former acquaint-
ance with me, and declaring his intention of paying mc
These words operated on my frame like lightning. All
within me was tumult and terror, and I rushed precipitately
out of the honi^e. I went forward with unequal steps, and
at random. Some instinct led me into the fields, and I wai
not apprized of the direction of my steos, till, looking up, I
found myself upon the shore of Schuylkill.
Thus was I, a second time, ovf-rLcrne by hopeless and
incurable evils. An interval of motley feelings, of spe-
cious artifice, and contemptible imposture, had elapsed since
my meeting with the stranger at Wilmington. Then mr
forlorn state had led me to the brink of suicide. A brief
and feverish respite had been afforded me, but now was I
transported to the verge of the same abyss.
Amos Watson was the brother of the angel whom I had
degraded and destroyed. What but fiery indignation and
unappeasable vengeance, could lead him into m^y presence?
Vv''ith what heart could I listen to his Invectives ? How coald-
I endure to bok upon the face of one, whom I had loaded
with such atrocious and intolerable injuries?
I was acquainted with his loftiness of mind: his detesta-
tion of injustice, and the whirl-wind passions that ingratitude
and, villainy like mine were qualified to awaken in his bosom.
I dreaded not his violence. The death that he might be
prompted to inflict, was no object of aversion. It was
poverty and disgrace, the detection of my crimes, the looks
and voice of malediction and upbraiding, from which ray
Why should I live? I must vanish from that stage which
1 had lately trodden. My fli^iht must be instant and preci-
pitate. To be a fugitive from exasperated creditors, and
from the industrious revenge of Watson, was an ggsy under-
taking; but whither could I fiy, where I should^not be pur-
I04 ARTHUR MERVYN.
sued by the phantoms of remorse, by the dread of hourly
detection, by the necessities of hunger and thirst? In what
scene should I be exempt from servitude and drudgery?
Was my existence embellished with enjoyments that would
justify my holding it, encumbered with hardships, and im-
mersed in obscurity?
There was no room for hesitation. To rush into tlie stream
before me, and to put an end at once to my life and the mise-
ries inseparably linked with it, was the only proceeding which
fiite had left to my choice. My muscles were already exerted
for this end, when the helpless condition of Clemenza was
remembered. What provision could I make against the evils
that threatened her? Should I leave her utterly forlorn and
friendless? Mrs. Wentworth's temper was forgiving and
compassionate. Adversity had taught her to participate, and
her wealth enabled her to relieve distress. Who was there
by whom such powerful claims to succour and protection
could be urged as by this desolate girl ? Might I not state
Ker situation in a letter to this lady, and urge irresistible
pleas for the extension of her kindness to this object?
These thoughts made me suspend my steps. I determined
to seek my habitation once more, and having written and
deposited this letter, to return to the execution of my fatal
purpose. I had scarcely >*eached my own door, when some
one approached along tli^ pavement. 'J'he form, at first, was
undistinguishable, but by coming, at length, within the illu-
mination of a lamp, it was perfectly recognized.
To avoid this detested interview was now impossible.
Watson approached and accosted me. In this conflict of
tumultuous feelings 1 was still able to maintain un air of in-
trepidity. His demeanour was that of a man who struggles
with his rage. His accents were hurried, ahd scarcely arti-
culate. 1 have ten words to say to you, said he: lead ti.o
the hou5e, and to some privi'.te room. My busmcss Wit'
you will be dispatched in a breath.
ARTHUR MERVYN. 195
I inadc him no ans\ver, but led the way into my house, and
to my study. On ent,.i'jig this room, I put the li^-ht upon
the table, and turnlii^b my visitant, prepared, silently to
hear, what he had to unFoli. He struck: his clenched hand
against the table with violence. His motion was of tha't
tempestuous kind, as to overwhelm the power of utterance,
and found it easier to vent itself in gesticulations than in
words. At length, he exclaimed,
It is well. Now has the hour, so long, and so impatiently
demanded by my vengeance, arrived. Welbeckl Would
that my first words could strike thee dead 1 They will so, if
thou hast any title to the name of man.
My sister is dead: dead of anguish and a broken heart.
Remote from her friends ; in a hovel ; the abode of indigence
Her husband is no more. He returned after long absence,
a tedious navigation, and vicissitudes of hardships. He flew
to the bosom of his love ; of his wife. She was gone ; lost
to him, and to virtue. In a fit of desperation, he retired to
his chamber, and dispatched himself. This is the instrument
with which the deed was performed.
Saying this, Watson took a pistol ft-om his pocket, and
held it to my head. I lifted not my hand to turn aside the
weapon. I did not shudder at the spectacle, or shrink from
his approaching hand. With fingers clasped together, and
eyes fixed upon the floor, 1 waited till his fury was exhausted.
All passed in a fev/ hours. The elopement of his daugh-
ter — the death of his son. O! my father 1 Most loved, and
most venerable of nienl To see thee changed into a maniac 1
Haggard and wild! Deterred from outrage on thyself and
those around thee, by fetters and stripes! What was it
that saved me from a like fate? To view this hideous ruin,
and to think by whom it was occasioned ! Yet not to become
frantic like thee, my father; or not destroy myfelf like thee
my brother ! Lly friend ! —
io6 ARTHUR AreRVYN.
No. For this hour was I reserved : to avenge your wrongs
and mine in the blood of this ungrateful villain.
There, continued he, producing a second pistol, and tender-
ing it to me, there is thy defence. Take we opposite sides
of this table, and fire at the same instant.
During this address I was motionless. He tendered the
pistol, but I unclasped not my hands to receive it.
Whydoyou heslt.ite? resumed he. Let the chance between
us be equal, or fire you first.
No, said I, I am ready to die bj your hand. I wish it.
It will preclude the necessity of performing the ofiice for
myself. I have injured you, and merit all that your venge-
ance can inflict. I know your nature too well, to btlicve
that my death will be perfect expiation. When the gust of
indignation is past, the remembrance of your deed will only
add to your sum of misery : yet I do not love you well enough
to wish that you would forbear. I desire to die, and to die
by another's hand rather than my own.
Coward 1 exclaimed Watson, with augmented vehemence.
You know me too well, to believe me capable of assassina-
tion. Vile subterfuge I Contemptible pleal Take the pistol
and defend yourself. You want not the power or the will;
but, knowing that I spurn at murder, you think your safety
will be found in passiveness. Your refusal will avail you
little. Your fame, if not your life, is at my mercy. If you
fauiter now, I will allow you to live, but only till I have
stabbed your reputation.
1 now fixed my eyes stedfastly upon him, and spoke: How
mucli a stranger are you to tlie feelings of Welbeck! How
poor a judge of his cowardice ! I take your pistol, and con-
sent to your conditions.
We took opposite sides of the table. Are you ready ? he
cried, fire 1
Both triggers were drawn at the same instant. Both pistols
were discharged. Mine was negligently raised. Such is
the untoward chance that presides over human affairs; such
ARTHUR MERVYN. 107
is the malignant destiny by which iny steps have ever been
pursued. The bullet whistled harmlessly by me. Levelled
by an eye that never before failed, and with so small an inter-
val between us. I escaped, but my blind and random shot
took place in his heart.
There is the fruit of this disastrous meeting. The cata-
logue of death is thus completed. Thou sleepest Watson 1
Thy sister is at rest, and so art thou. Thy vows of venge-
ance are at an end. It was not reserved for thee to be thy
own and thy sister's avenger. Welbeck's measure of trans-
gressions is now full, and his own hand must execute the
justice that is due to him.
Such was Welbeck's tale listened to by me -with
an eagerness in which every faculty wi'.s absorbed. How
adverse to my dreams were the incidents that had just been
related 1 The curtain was lifted, and a scene of guilt and igno-
miny disclosed where my rash and inexperienced youth had
suspected nothing but loftiness and magnanimity.
For a while the wondrousness of this tale kept me from
contemplating the consequences that awaited us. My un-
fledged fancy had not liithcrto soared to this pitch. All was
astounding by its novelty, or tcrrif.c by its horror. The very
scene of these offences partook, to my rustic apprehension, of
fairy splendour, and magical abruptness. My understand-
ing was bemazed, and my senses were taught to distrust
their own testimony.
From this musing state I was recalled by my companion,
■who said to me in solemn accents. Mervyn ! I have but
two requests to make. Assist me to bury these remains,
and then accompiiny me accross the river. I have no power
to compel your silence on the acts that you hcve witnessed.
J have meditated to berefit, as v/ell as to injure you ; but I
do not desire that your demeanour should conform to any
other standard than justice. You have promised, and to
that promise I trust.
^^f you chuse to fly from this scene, to v/itdraw yourself
from what you may conceive to be a theatre of guilt or peril,
ARTHUR MERVYN. icp
the avenues are open ; retire unmolested and in silence. If
you have a man-like spirit, if you are grateful for the bene-
fits bestowed upon you, if your discernment enables you to
see that complidfice Vith my request will intangle you in no
guilt, and betray you into no danger, stay, and aid me in
hiding these remains from human scrutiny.
Watson is beyond the reach of further injur)'-. I never
Intended him harm, though I have torn from him his sister
and friend, and have brought his life to an untimely close.
To provide him a grave, is a duty that I owe to the dead and
to the living. I shall quickly place myself beyond the reach
of inquisitors and judges, but would willingly rescue from
molestation or suspicion those whom I shall leave behind.
What would have been the fruit of delibei-ation, if I had
had the time or power to deliberate, I know not. My thoughts
flowed with tumult and rapidity. To shut this spectacle
from my view was the first impulse ; but to desert this man,
in a time of so much need, appeared a thankless and dast-
ardly deportment. To remain where I was, to conform im-
plicitly to his direction, required no effort. Some fear was
connected with his presence, and with that of the dead ; but,
in the tremulous confusion of my present thoughts, solitude
■would conjure up a thousand phantoms.
I made no preparation to depart. I did not verballv
assent to his proposal. He interpreted my silence into acqui-
escence. He wrapt the body in the carpet, and then lifting
one end, cast at me a look which indicated his expectations,
that I would aid him in lifting this ghastly burthen. During
this process, the silence was unbroken.
I knew not whither he intended to convey the corpse. He
had talked of burial, but no receptacle had been provided.
How far safety might depend upon his conduct in this parti-
cular, I was unable to estimate. I was in too heartless a
mood to utter my doubts. I followed his example in raising
the corpse from the floor.
no ARTHUR MERVYN.
He led the way into the passage and down stairs. Having
reached the first floor, he unbolted a door which led into the
cellar. The stairs and passage were illuminated by lamps,
that hung from the ceiling, and were accustomed to burn
during the night. Now, however, we were entering dark-
some and murky recesses.
Return, said he, in a tone of command, and fetch the light.
I will wait for you.
1 obeyed. As I returned with the light, a suspicion stole
into my mind, that Welbeck had taken this opportunity to
fly; and that on regaining the foot of the stairs, I should
find the spot deserted by all but the dead. My blood was
chilled by this Image. The momentary resolution it inspired
was to follow the example of the fugitive, and leave the persons,
whom the ensuing day might convene on this spot, to form
their own conjectures as to the cause of this catastrophe.
Meanwhile, I cast anxious eyes forward. Welbeck was
discovered in the same place and posture in which he had
been left, lifting the corpse and its shroud in his arms he
directed me to follow him. The vaults beneath were lofty
and spacious. He passed from one to the other till wc
reached a small and remote cell. Here he cast his burthen
on the ground. In the fall, the face of Watson chanced to
be disengaged from its covering. Its closed eyes and sunken
muscles were rendered, in a tenfold degree, ghastly and
rueful by the feeble light which the candle shed upon it.
This object did not escape the attention of Welbeck.
He leaned against the wall and folding his arms resigned him-
self to reverie. He gazed upon the countenance of Watson
but his looks denoted his attention to be elsewhere employed.
As to me, my state will not be easily described. My
eye roved fearfully from one object to another. By turns it
was fixed upon the murdered person and the murderer. The
narrow cell in which we stood, its. rudely fashioned wulls and
arches, destitute of communication with the external air,
aivd Its palpable dark scarcely penetrated by the rays of a
ARTHUR MERVYN. iii
Jolltary candle, added to the silence Avliich was deep and
universrd, produced an impression on my fancy which no
time will obliterate.
Perhaps my imagination was distempered by terror. The
incident which I am going to relate may appear to have
existed only in my fancy. Be that as it may, 1 experienced
all the eff.:cts which the fullest belief is adapted to produce,
glancing vaguely at the countenance of Watson, my atten-
tion was arrested by a convulsive motion in the eye-lids. This
motion increased, till, at length the eyes opened, and a
glajice, languid but wild, was thrown aroun.i. Instantly
they closed, and the tremulous appearance vanished.
I started from my place and was on the point of uttering
some involuntary exclamation. At the same moment.
Welbeck seemed to recover from his reverie.
How is this! said he. Why do we linger here? Every
moment is precious. We cannot dig for him a grave with
our hands. Wait here, while 1 go in search of a spade.
Saying this, he snat h?d the candle from my hand, and
hasted away. My eye followed the lijht as its gleams shifted
their place upon the walls and ceilin^-^^s, and gradually van-
ishing, gave place to unrespited gloom. This proceeding-
was so unexpected and abrupt, that I had no time to remon-
strate against it. Before I retreived the power of reticction,
the light had disappeared and the foot-steps were no longer to
be heard. *•
I was not, on ordinary occas'ons, destitute of eqmnimitv,
but, perhaps the imagination of man is naturally abhorrent
of death, until tutored into indifference by hub t. Every
circumst nee combined to fili me with shuddcrin^^- and panick.
For a while, I was enabled to endure my situation by the
exertions of my reason. That the lifeless remains of an
human being are powerless to injure or benefit, I was tho-
roughly persu.ided. 1 suinmoned this belief to my aid, and
was abi^, if not to subdue, yet to curb my fears. I listened
112 ARTHUR MERVYN.
to catch the sound of the returning foot-steps of Welbeck, and
hoped that every new moment would terminate my solitude.
No signal of his coming was afforded. At length it occur-
red to me that Welbeck had gone with no intention to
return: That his malice had seduced me hither, to encounter
the consequences of his deed. He had fled and barred every
door behind him. This suspicion may well be supposed to
overpower my courage, and to call forth desperate efforts
for my deliverance.
I extended my hands and went forward. I had been too
little attentive to the situation and direction of these vaults
and passages, to go forward with undeviating accuracy. My
fears likewise tended to confuse my perceptions and bewilder
my steps. Notwithstanding the danger of encountering
obstructions. I rushed towards the entrance with precipi-
My temerity was quickly punished. In a moment, I was
repelled by a jutting angle of the wall, with such force that
I staggered backward and fell. The blow was stunning, and
•when I recovered my senses, I perceived that a torrent of
blood v/as gusliing from my nostrils. My clothes were mois-
tened with tills unwelcome effus'on, and I could not but
reflect on tlie hazard which I should incur by being detected
in this recess, covered by these accusing stains.
This reflection once more set me on my feet, and incited
my exertions. I now proceeded with greater Vaiiness and
caution. I had lost all distinct notions of my way. My mo-
tions were at random. All my labour was to shun obstruc-
tions and to advance whenever the vacuity would permit.
By this means, the entrance was at length found, and after
various efforts, I arrived, beyond my hopes, at the foot of
• I ascended, but quickly encountered an infuperable impe-
diment. The door at the stair-head, was closed and barred.
My utmost strength was exerted in vain, to break the lock or
the hinges. Tlius were my direst apprehensions fulfilled.
ARTHUR MERVVN. 113
Wclbeck had left me to sustain the charc^e of murder: to
obviate suspicions the most atrocious and plausible that
the course of human events is capable of producing.
Here I must remain till the morrow : till some one can
be made to overhear my calls and come to my deliverance.
What effects will my appearance produce on the spectator!
Terrified by phantoms and stained with blood shall I not
exhibit the tokens of a maniac as well as an assass'n?
The corpse of Watson will quickly be discovered. If
previous to this disclosure I should change my blood-
stained garments and withdraw into the country, shall I not
be pursued by the most vehement suspicions and, perhaps,
hunted to my obscurest retreat by the ministers of justice?
I am innocent, but my tale however circumstantial or true,
will scarcely sufiice for my vim'icat'on. My flight will be
construed into a proef of incontestable guilt.
While harassed by these thoughts my attention was
attracted by a faint gleam cast upon the bottom of the ftair-
case. It grew stronger, hovered for a moment in my sight,
and then disappeared. That it proceeded from a lamp or
candle, borne by some one along the passages was no unte-
nable opinion, but was far less probable than that the efful-
gence was meteorous. I confided in the latter supposition and
fortified myself anew against the dread of preternatural
dangers. iMy thoughts reverted to the contemplntion of
the hazards and suspicions which flowed from my continu-
ance in this spot.
In the midst of my perturbed musing, my attention was
again recalled by an illumination like the former. Instead
of hovcrlni^- and vanishing, it was permanent. No ray could
be more feeble, but the tangible obscurity to which it suc-
ceeded rendered it conspicuous as an electrical flash. For a
while I eyed it without moving from my place, and in
momentary expectation of its disappearance.
Remarking its stability, the propriety of scrutinizing it
more nearly, and of ascertaining the source whence it flowed,
114 ARTHUR MERVYN.
was at length su^-gested. Hope, as well as curiosity, was the
parent of my conduct. I'hough utterly at a loss to assign
the cause of this appearance, I was willing to believe some
connection between that cause and the means of my delive-
I had scarcely formed the resolution of descending the
stair, when my hope was extinguished by the recollection
that the cellar had narrow and grated windows, through
which light from the street might possibly have found access.
A second recollection supplanted this belief, for in my way
to this stair-case, my attention would have been solicited,
and my steps, in some degree, been guided by light coming
through these avenues.
Having returned to the bottom of the stair, I perceived
ever)' part of the long drawn passage illuminated. I threw
a glance forward, to the quarter whence the rays seemed to
proceed, and beheld, at a considerable distance, Welbeck in
the cell which I had left, turning up the earth with a spade.
After a pause of astonishment, the nature of the error
which 1 had committed, rushed upon apprehension. I now
perceived that the darkness had misled me to a diiferent
stair-case from that which I had originally descended. It was
apparent that Welbeck intended me no evil, but had really
^-•one in search of the instrument which he had mentioned.
This discovery overwhelmed me with contrition and shame,
though it freed from the terrors of imprisonment and accu-
sation. To return to the cell which I had left, and where
"Welbeck was employed in his disastrous office, was the
expedient which regards to my own safety unavoidably sug-
Welbeck paused at my approach, and betrayed a momen-
tary consternation at the sight of my ensanguined visage.
The blood, by some inexplicable process of nature, perhaps
by the counteracting influence of fear, had quickly ceased
to flow. Whether the cause of my evasion, and of my flux
•f blood, was guessed, or whether his attention was with
ARTHUR ME R VYN. 1 1 5
arawn, by more momentous objects, from my condition, he
proceeded in his task in silence.
A shallow bed, and a slight covering of clay was provided
for the hapless Watson. Welbeck's movements were hurried
and tremulous. His countenance betokened a mind en-
grossed by a single purpose, in some degree, foreign to the
scene before him. An intensity and fixedness of features, that
conspicuous, were led me to suspect the subversion of his
Having finished the task, he threw aside his impliment.
He then put into my hand a pocket-book, saying it belonged
to Watson, and might contain something serviceable to the
living. I might make what use of it I thought proper. He
then remounted the stairs and, placing the candle on a table
in the hall, opened the principal door and went forth. 1 was
driven, by a sort of mechanical impulse, in his foots-teps. I
followed him because it w^as agreeable to him and because I
knew not whither else to direct my steps.
The streets were desolate and silent. The watchmnn's
call remotely and faintly heard, added to the general solem-
nity. I followed my companion in a state of mind not easily
described. I had no spirit even to inquire whither he was
going. It was not till we arrived at the water's edge that I
persuaded myself to break silence. I then began to rehect
on the degree in which his present schemes might endanger
Welbeck or myself. I had acted long enough a servile
and mechanical part; and been guided by blind and foreign
impulses. It was time to lay aside my fetters, and demand
to know whither the path tended in which I was importuned
Meanwhile I found myself intanglsd among boats and
shipping. I am unable to describe the spot by any indispu-
table tokens. I know merely that it was the termination of
one of the principal streets. Here Welbeck selected a boat
and prepared to enter it. For a moment I hesitated to comply
•with his apparent invitation. I stammered out an interroga-
Ti6 ARTHUR MERVYN.
tion. Why is this? Why should we cross tlie river? Wh?t
service can I do for you? I ought to know the purpose of my
voyage before I enter it.
He checked himself and surveyed mc for a minute in
silence. What do you fear? said he. Have I not explained
my wishes? Merely cross the river with me, for T cannot
navigate a boat by myself. Is there any thing arduous or
mysterious in this undertaking? we part on the Jersey shore,
and I shall leave you to your destiny. All 1 siiall ask from
you will be silencej and to hide from mankind what you know
He now entered the boat and urged me to follow his exam-
-ple. I reluctantly complied. I perceived that the boat con-
tained but one oar and that was a small one. He seemed
startled and thrown into great perplexity by this discovery.
It will be impossible, said he, in a tone of panic and vexa-
tion, to procure another at this hour; what is to be done?
This impediment was by no means insuperable. I had
sinewy arms and knew well how to use an oar for the double
purpose of oar and ruddtr. I took my station at the stem,
and quickly extricated the boat from its neighbours and from
the wharves. I was wholly unacquainted with the river.
The bar, by which it was incumbered, 1 knew to exist, but
in what direction and to what extent it existed, and how it
might be avoided in the present state of the tide I knew not.
It was probable, therefore, unknowing as I was of the proper
tract, that our boat would speedily have grounded.
My attention, meanwhile, was fixed upon the oar. My com-
panion sat at the prow and was in a considerable degree
unnoticed. 1 cast eyes occasionally at the scene which I
had left. Its novelty, joined with the incidents of my con-
dition, threw me into a state of suspense and wonder which
frequently slackened my hand, and left the vessel to be driven
by the downward current. Lights were sparingly seen, and
these were perpetually fluctuating, as masts, yards, and hulls
were interposed, and passed before them. In proportion as
ARTHUR MERVYN. ii-
we receded from the shore, the clamours seemed to multiply,
and the suggestion that the city was involved in confusion
and uproar, did not easily give way to maturer thoughts.
Twelve was the hour cried, and this ascended at once from
all quarters, and was mingled with the baying of dogs, so as
to produce trepidation and alarm.
From this state of magnificent and awful feeling, I was
suddenly called by the conduct of Welbeck. We had
scarcely moved two hund-red yards from the shore, when he
plunged into the water. The first conception was that some
implement or part of the boat had fallen overboard. I
looked back and perceived that his seat was vacant. In my
first astonishment I loosened my hold of the oar, and it
floated away. The surface was smooth as glass and the eddy
occasioned by his sinking was scarcely visible. I had not
time to determine whether this was designed or accidental.
Its suddenness deprived me of the power to exert myself for
his succour. I wildly gazed around me in hopes of seeing
him rise. After some time my attention was drawn, by the
sound of agitation in the water, to a considerable distance.
It was too dark for any thing to be distinctly seen. There
was no cry for help. The noise was like that of one vigo-
rously struggling for a moment, and then finking to the bot-
tom. I listened with painful eagerness, but was unable to
distinguish a third signal. He sunk to rise no more.
I was, for a time, inattentive to my own situation. The
dreadfulness, and unexpectedness of this catastrophe occupied
me wholly. The quick motion of the lights upon the shore,
shewed me that I was borne rapidly along with the tide*
How to help myself, how to impede my course, or to regahi
either shore, since I had lost the oar, I was unable to tell. I
■was no less at a loss to conjecture whither the current, if
suffered to control my vehicle, would finally transport me.
The disappearance of lights and buildings, and the dimi-
nution of the noises, acquainted me that I had passed the
td^^ It was impossible longer to hesitate. The shore was
jt5 ARTHUR MERVYTf.
to be reg-ained by one way only, which was swimming.
To any exploit of this kind, my strength and my skill were
adequate. I threw away my loose gown; put the pocket-
book ot" the unfortunate Watson in my mouth, to pre-
serve it from being injured by moisture ; and committed my-
self to the stream.
I landed in a spot incommoded with mud and reeds. I
sunk knee-deep into the former, and was exhausted by the
fatigue of extricating myself. At length I recovered firm
ground, and threw myself on the turf to repair my wasted
strength, and to reHect on the measures which my future,
welfare enjoined me to pursue.
What condition was ever parallel to mine? The transac-
tions of the last three days, resemblsd the monstrous creations
of delirium. They were painted with vivid hues on my me-
mory; but so rapid and incongruous were these transitions,
that I almost denied belief to their reality. They exercised
a bewildering and stupefying influence on my mind, from
which the meditations of an hour were scarcely sufficient to
relieve me. Gradually I recovered the power of arranging
my ideas, and forming conclusions.
Welbeck was dead. His property was swallowed up, and
his creditors left to wonder at his disappearance. All that
was left, was the furniture of his house, to which Mrs.Went-
worxh •would lay claim, in discharge of the unpaid rent.
What now was the destiny that awaited the lost and friend-
less Mademoiselle Lodi. Where was Ihe concealed? Wel-
bttk had dropped no intimation by which 1 might be led to
suspect the place of her abode. If my power, in other
respects, could have contributed aught to her relief, my igno-
rance of her asylum had utterly disabled me.
But what of the murdtred person? He had suddenly van-
ished from the face of the earth.. H's fate and the place of
his interment would brobably be suspected and ascertained.
Was 1 sure to escape from the consequences of this deed?
WaUoii had relatives and friends. What influence oi^^r
ARTHUR MERVYN. iif
^tatc and happiness his untimely and mysterious fate would
possess, it was obvious to inquire. This idea led me to the
recollection of his pocket-book. Some papers might be there
explanatory of his situation.
T resumed my feet. 1 knew not where to direct my steps.
I was dropping with wet, and shivering with the cold. I
was destitute of habitation and friend. I had neither money,
nor any valuable thing in my possession. I moved forward,
mechanically and at random. Where I landed was at no
great distance from the verge of the town. In a short time I
discovered the glimmering of a distant lamp. To this I
directed my steps, and here 1 paused to examine the contents
of the pocket-book.
1 found three bank-notes^ each of fifty dollars, inclosed in
a piece of blank paper. Beside these were three letters,
apparently written by his wife, and dated at Baltimore.
They were brief, but composed in a strain of great tender-
ness, and containing affecting allusions to their child. I
could gather from their date and tenor, that they wxre
received during his absence on his recent voyage; that her
condition was considerably necessitous, and surrounded by
wants which their prolonged separation had increased.
The fourth letter was open, and seemed to have been very
lately written. It was directed to Mrs. Mary Watson. He
informed her in it of his arrival at Philadelphia from St. Do-
mingo; of the loss of his ship and cargo; andof his intention
to hasten home with all possible expedition. He told her that
all was lost but one hundred and fifty dollars, the greater part
of which he should bring with him, to relieve her more press-
ing wants. The letter was signed, and folded, and sujier-
scribcd, but unscaLed.
A little consideration shewed me, in what manner it became
me, on this occasion, to demean myself. I put the bank-
notes in the letter, and sealed it with a wafer ; a few of which
Avere found in tiie pocket-book. 1 hesitated sometime whe-
tluj^ should add any thing to the information which the
J20 ARTHUR MERVYN.
letter contained, by means of a pencil which offered itself to
my view; but I concluded to forbear. 1 could select no suit-
able terms in which to communicate the mournful truth. I
resolved to deposit this letter at the post-office, where I knevr
letters could be left at all hours.
My reflections at length, reverted to my own condition,
what was the fate reserved for me? How far my safety might
be affected by remaining in the city, in consequence of the
disappearance of Welbeck, and my known connection with
the fugitive, it was impossible to foresee. My fears readily
suggested innumerable embarrassments and inconvenien-
ces which would flow from this source. Besides, on what
pretence should I remain? To whom could I apply for pro-
tection or em.ployment? All avenues, even to subsistence,
were shut against me. The country was my sole asylum.
Here, in exchange for my labour, I could at least purchase
food, safety, and repose. But if my choice pointed to the
country, there was no reason for a moment's delay. It
would be prudent to regain the fields, and be faj- from this
detested city before the rising of the sun.
Meanwhile I was chilled and chaffed by the clothes that I
wore. To change them for others, was absolutely necessary
to my ease. The clothes which I wore were not my own,
and were extremely unsuitable to my new condition. My
rustic and homely garb was deposited in my chamber at
Welbeck's. These thoughts suggested the design of return-
ing thither. I considered, that, probably, the servants had
not been alarmed. That the door was unfastened, and the
house was accessible. It would be easy to enter and retire
■without notice; and this, not without some waverings and
misgivings, I presently determined to do.
Havin(5 deposited my letter at the office, I proceeded to
my late abode. I approached, and lifted the latch with
caution. There were no appearances of any one having been
disturbed. I procured a light in the kitchen, and hied softly
and with dubious foot-steps to my chamber. There
ARTHUR MERVYN. 121
robed, and resumed my check shirt, and trowsers, and fus-
tian coat. This change being accomplished, nothing remained ^
but that I should strike into the country -n'ith the utmost
In a momentary review which I took of the past, tt^
design for which Welbeck professed to have originally
detained me in his service, occurred to my mind. I knew the
danger of reasemng loosely on the subject of property. To
any trinket, or piece of furniture in this house, J did not
allow myself to question the right of Mrs. Wentworth; a
right accruing to her in consequence of Welbe^Srs failure
in the payment of his rent; but there was one tlni^g which
I felt an irresistible desire, and na. scruples which should
forbid me, to possess, and that was, the manuscript to which
Welbeck had alluded, as having been written by the deceased
I was well instructed in Latin, and knew the Tuscan lan-
guage to be nearly akin to it. I despaired not of being at some-
time able to cultivate this language, and believed that the
possession of this manuscript might essentially contribute ta
this end, as well as to many others equally beneficial. It was
easy to conjecture that the volume was to be found among
his printed books, and it was scarcely less easy to ascertain
the truth of this conjecture. I entered, not without tremu-
lous sensations, into the apartment which had been the scene
of the disastrous interview between Watson and Welbeck.
At every step I almost dreaded to behold the spectre of the
former rise before me.
Numerous and splendid volumes were arranged on maho-
gany shelves, and screened by doors of glass. I ran swiftly
over their names, and was at length so fortunate as to light
upon the book of which I was in search. I immediately
secured it, and leaving the candle extinguished on a table
in the parlour, I once more issued forth into the street.
With light steps and palpitating heart I turned my face
towards the country. My necessitous condition I believed
til ARTHUR MERVVN.
would justify me in passing without payment the Schuylkill
bridge, and the eastern sky began to brighten with the dawn
of morning not till I had gained the distance of nine mile*
from the city.
A Such is the tale which I proposed to relate to you. Such
are the memorable incidents of five days of my life ; from
which I have gathered more instruction than from the
whole tissue of my previous existence. Such are the parti-
culars of my knowledge respecting the crimes and misfor-
tunes of Welbeck ; which the insinuations of Wortley, and
my desire to retain your good opinion, have induced me t«
[ 1^3 ]
JMeRVYN's pause allowed his auditors to reflect
on the particulars of his narration, and to compare them
■vs'ith the facts, with a knowledge of which, their own obser-
vation had supplied them. My profession introduced me to
the friendship of Mrs. Wentworth, by whom, after the dis-
appearance of Welbeck, many circumstances respecting him
had been mention. She particularly dwelt upon the deport-
ment and appearance of this youth, at the single interview
which took place between them, and her representations
were perfectly conformable to those which Mervyn had hirai.
Previously to this interview Welbeck had insinuated to
her that a recent event had put him in possession of the truth
respecting the destiny of Clavering. A kinsman of his,
had arrived from Portugal, by whom this intelligence had
been brouglit. He dexterously eluded her intreaties to be
furnished with minuter information, or to introduce this
kinsman to her acquaintance. As soon as Mervyn was
ushered into her presence, she suspected him to be the person
to whom Welbeck had alluded, and this suspicion his con-
versation had confirmed. She was at a loss to comprehend
the reasons of the silence which he so pertinaciously main-
Her uneasiness, however, prompted her to renew her soli-
citations. On the day, subsequent to the catastrophe related
124 ARTHUR MERVYN.
by Mervyn, she sent a messenger to Welbeck, with a request
to see him. Gabriel, the black servant, informed the mes-
senger that h:s,*master had gone into the country for a week.
At the end of tiie week, a messenger was again dispatched
■with the same errand. He called and knocked, but no one
answered rf signals. He examined the entrance by the
kitchen, But every avenue was closed. It appeared that the
house was 'wholly deserted.
These appearances naturally gave birth to curiosity and
suspicion. The house was repeatedly examined, but the
solitude and silence within continued the same. The credi-
tors of Welbeck were alarmed by these appearances, and
thtir claims to the property remaining in the house were pre-
cluded by Mrs. Wentworth, who, as owner of the mansion,
•was legally entitled to the furniture, in place of the rent
"which Welbeck had suffered to accumulate.
On examining the dwelling, all that was valuable and
portable, p.irticularly linen and plate, was removed. The
remainder was distrained, but the tumults of pestilence suc-
ceeded, and hindered it from being sold. Things were allowed
to continue in their former situation, and the house was care-
fully secured. We had no leisure to form conjectures on
tbe causes of this desertion. An explanation was afforded
us by the narrative of this youth. It is probable that the
servants, finding their master's absence continue, had pilla-
ged the house and fled.
Meanwhile, though our curiosity with regard to Welbeck
v;as appeased, it was obvious to inquire by what series of
inducements and events Mervyn was reconducted to the city
and led to tlie spot where I first met with him. We inti-
mated our wishes in this respect, and our young friend rea-
dily consented to take up the thread of his story and bring
it down to the point that was desired. For this purpose,
the ensuing evening wa* selected. Having, at an early
hour, shut ourselves up from all intruders and visitors, he
continued as follows:
ARTHUR MERVYN. 125
1 have mcntioi;£d that, by sun-rise, I had gauied the dis-
tance of many miles from the city. My purpose Avas to stop
at the first farm-house, and seek employment as a day-
labourer. The first person whom I observed was a man of
placid mien and plain garb. Habitual benevol^e was appa-
rent amidst the wrinkles of age. He was mversing his
buck-wheat field and measuring, as it seemed, the harvest
that was now nearly ripe.
I accosted him with diffidence, and explained my wishes.
He listened to my tale with complacency, inquired into my
name and family, and into my qualifications for the office to
which I aspired. My answers were candid and full.
, Why, said he, I believe thou and I can make a bargain.
We will, at least, try each other for a week or two. If it
doe& not suit our mutual convenience we can change. The
morning is damp and cool, and thy plight does not appear
the most comfortable that can be imagined. Come to the
house and eat some breakfast.
The behaviour of this good man filled we with gratitude
and joy. Methought I could embrace him as a father, and
entrance into his house, appeared like return to a long-lost
and much-loved home. My desolate and lonely condition
appeared to be changed for paternal regards and the tender-
ness of friendship.
These em.otions were confirmed and heightened by every
object that presented itself under this roof. The family
consisted of Mrs. Hadwin, two simple and affectionate
girls, his daughters, and sei-vants. The manners of this
family, quiet, artless, and cordial, the occupations allotted,
me, the land by which the dwelling was surrounded, its pure
airs, romantic walks, and exhaustless fertility, constituted a
powerful contrast to the scenes which I had left behind, a i
were congenial with every dictate of my understanding aiid
every sentiment that glowed in my heart.
My youth, mental cultivation, and circumspect deportment
fntitled me to deference and confidence, x-ucii hour coa-
126 ARTHUR MERVVN.
firmed me in the good opinion of Mr. Hadwin, and in the
affections of his daughters. In the mind of my employer,
the simplicity of the husbandman and the devotion of the
Quaker, were blended with humanity and intelligence. The
sisters, Susan and Eliza, were unacquainted with calamity
and vice, tli^igh the medium of either observation or books.
They were strangers to the benefits of an elaborate education,
but they were endowed with curiosity and discernment, and
had not suffered their slender means of instruction to remain
The sedateness of the elder formed an amusing contrast
with the laughing eye and untamable vivacity of the younger:
but they smiled and they wept in unison. They thought
and acted in different but not discordant keys. On all mo-
mentous occasions, they rc.isoned and felt alike. In ordinary
cases, they separated, as it were, into different tracks ; but
this diversity was productive, not of jarring, but of harmony.
A romantic and untutored disposition like mine, may be
supposed liable to strong impressions from perpetual converse
with persons of their age and lex. The elder was soon dis-
covered to have already disposed of her affections. The
younger was free, and somewhat that is more easily con-
ceived than named, stole insensibly upon my heart. The
images that haunted me at home and abroad, in her absence
aud her presence gradually coalesced into one shape, and
gave birth to an incessant train of latent palpitations and
indefinable hopes. My days were little else than uninter-
rupted reveries, and night only called up phantoms more vivid
and equally enchanting.
The men)orable incidents which had lately happened
scarcely counterpoised my new sensations or diverted my
contemplations from the present. My views were gradually
led to rest upon futurity, and in that I quickly found cause
of circumspection and dread. My present labours were light
and were sufficient for my subsistence in a single state; but
wedlock was the parent of new wants and of new cares.
ARTHUR MERVTN. 127
Mr. Hadwin's possessions were adequate to his own frugal
maintenance, but divided between his children would be too
scanty for either. Besides this division could only take place
at his death, and that was an event whose speedy occurrence
was neither desirable nor probable.
Another obstacle was now remembered. Ha'dwin was the
consciencious member of a sect, which forbade the marriige
of its votaries with those of a different communion. I had
been trained in an opposite creed, and imagined it impossi-
ble that I should ever become a proselyte to Quakerism. It
only remained for me to feign conversion, or to root out the
opinions of my friend, and win her consent to a secret mar-
riage. Whether hypocrisy was eligible was no subject of
deliberation. If the possession of all that ambition can con-
ceive, were added to the transports of union with Eliza Had-
win, and offered as the price of dissimulation, it would have
been instantly rejected. My external goods were not abun-
dant nor numerous, but the consciousness of rectitude was
mine, and, in competition with this, the luxury of the heart
and of the senses, the gratifications of boundless ambition and
inexhaustible wealth were contemptible and frivolous.
The conquest of Eliza's errors was easy ; but to introduce
discord and sorrow into this family, was an act of the utmost
ingratitude and profligacy. It was only requisite for my
understanding clearly to discern, to be convinced of the insu-
perability of this obstacle. It was manifest, therefore, that
the point to which my wishes tended was placed beyond my
To foster my passion, was to foster a disease destructive
either of my integrity or my existence. It was indispensa-
ble to fix my thoughts upon a different object, and to debar
myself even from her intercourse. To ponder on themes
foreign to my darling image, and to seclude myself from her
society, at hours which had usually been spent with her,
■were difficult tasks. The latter was the least pract'.c?.ble. I
had to contend with eyes, which alternately wondered ai^
128 ARTHUR MERVYN.
and upbraided me for my unkindness. She was wholly una-
ware of the nature of her own feelings, and this ignorance
made her less scrupulous in the expression of her sentiments.
Hitherto I had needed not employment beyond myself and
my companions. Now my new motives made me eager
to discover some means of controling and beguiling my
thoughts. In this state, the manuscript of Lodi occurred
to me. In my way hither, I had resolved to make the study
of the language of this book, and the translation of its con-
tents into Englifli, the business and solace of my leisure.
Now this resolution was revived with new force.
My project was perhaps singular. The ancient language
of Italy possessed a strong affinity with the modern. My
knowledge of the former, was my only means of gaining the
latter. 1 had no grammar or vocabulary to explain how far
the meanings and inflections of Tuscan words varied from
the Roman dialect. I was to ponder on each sentence and
phrase ; to select among different conjectures the most plau-
sible, and to ascertain the true, by patient and repeated
This undertaking, phantastlc and impracticable as it may
seem, proved upon experiment, to be within the compass of
my powers. TJie detail of my progress would be curious and
instructive. What impediments, in the attainment of a
darling purpose, human ingenuity and patience are able to
surmount; how much maybe done by strenuous and solitary
efforts; how the mind, unassisted, may draw forth the prin-
clpltts of inflection and arrangement; may profit by remote,
analagous, and latent similitudes, would be forcibly Illustrated
by my example ; but the theme, however attractive, must,
for the present, be omitted.
My progress was slow; but the perception of hourly im-
provement afforded me unspeakable pleasure. Having arrived
near the last pages, 1 was able to pursue, with little inter*
ruption, the thread of an eloquent narration. The triumph
of a leader ©f out-laws over the popular enthusiasm of tht
ARTHUR MERVYN. 129
Milanese, and the claims of neighbouring potentates, were
about to be depicted. The Condottiero Sforza, had taken
refuge from his enemies in a tomb ; accidentally discovered
amidst the ruins of a Roman fortress in the Appenine. He
had sought this recess for the sake of concealment, but found
in it a treasure, by which he would be enabled to secure the
wavering and venal, faith of that crew of ruffians that fol-
lowed his standard, provided he fell not into the hands of the
enemies who were now in search of him.
My tumultuous curiosity was suddenly checked by the
following leaves being glewed together at the edges. To
dissever them without injury to the written spaces, was by
no means easy. I proceeded to the task, not without pre-
cipitation. The edges were torn away, and the leaves
It may be thought that I took up the thread where it had
been broken ; but no. The object that my eyes encountered,
and which the cemented leaves had so long concealed, was
beyond the power of the most capricious or lawless fancy to
have prefigured ; yet it bore a shadowy resemblance to the
images with which my imagination was previously occupied.
I opened, and beheld — a bank-tiotel
To the first transports of surprise, the conjecture succeeded
that the remaining leaves, cemented together in the same
manner, might inclose similar bills. They were hastily sepa-
rated, and the conjecture v/as verified. My sensations, at
this discov^ery, were of an inexplicable kind. I gazed at tlie
notes in silence. I moved my finger over them; held them
in different positions ; read and re-read the name of each sum,
and the signature; added them together, and repeated to
myself — Tiventj thousand dollars 1 They are mine, and
by such means 1
This sum wou^d have reedeemed the falling fortunes of
Welbeck. The dying Lodi was unable to comm.unicate ail
the contents of this inestimable volume. He had divided
his treasure, with a view to its greater safety, between this
13» . ARTHUR MERVYN.
Tolume and his pocket-book. Death hasted upon hhn too
suddenly to allow him to explain his precautions. Welbeck
had placed the book in his collection, purposing sometime t»
peruse it; but deterred by anxieties, which the perusal
■would have dissipated, he rusJied to desperation and sui-
cide, from which some evanescent contingency, by unfold-
ing this treasure to his view, would have effectually rescued
But was this event to be regretted? This sum, like the for-
mer, would probably have been expended in the same perni-
cious prodigality. His career would have continued some-
time longer, but his inveterate habits would have finally
conducted his existence to the same criminal and ignomini-
Bu.t the destiny of Welbeck was accomplished. The
money was placed, without guilt or artifice, in my possession.
My fortune had been thus unexpectedly and wonderously
propitious. How was I to profit by her favour? Would not
this sum enable me to gather round me all the instrunjents
of pleafure? Equipage, and palace, and a multitude oi ser-
vants; polished mirrors, splendid hangings, banquets, and
flatterers, were equally abhorrent to my taste, and my prin-
ciples. The accumulation of knowledge, and the diffusion of
happiness, in which riches may be rendered eminently instru-
mental, were the only precepts of duty, and the only avenues
to genuine felicity.
But what, said I, is my title to this money? By retaining
it, sliall I not be as culpable as Welbeck? It came into his
possession as it came into mine, without a crime }i but my
knov.lcdge of the true proprietor is equally certain, and the
claims of the unfortunate stranger are as valid as ever.
Indeed, if utility, and not law, be the measure of justice, her
claim, desolate and indigent as slie is, unfitted, by her past
life, by the softness and the prejudices of her education, for
contending with calamity, is incontestible.
ARTHUR MERVYN. 131
As to mc, health and dUigence will give me, not only the
competence which I seek, but the power of enjoying it. If
my present condition be unchangeable, I shall not be unhappy.
My occupations are salutary and meritorious ; I am a stranger
to the cares as well as to the enjoyment of riches; abundant
means of knowledge are possessed by me, as long as I have
eyes to gaze at man and at nature, as they are exhibited in
their original forms or in books. The precepts of my duty
cannot be mistaken. The lady must be sought and the money
be restored to her.
Certain obstacles existed to the immediate execution of
this scheme. How should I conduct my search? What
apology should I make for withdrawing thus abruptly, and
contrary to the terms of an agreement into which I had lately
entered, from the family and service of my friend and bene-
factor, Hadwin ?
My thoughts were called away from pursuing these in-
quiries by a rumour, which had gradually swelled to formi-
dable dimensions ; and which, at length, reached us in our
quiet retreats. The city, we were told, was involved in con-
tusion and panick, for a pestilential disease had begun its
destructive progress. Magistrates and citizens were flying
to the country. The numbers of the sick multiplied beyond
all example ; even in the pest affected cities of the Levant.
The malady was malignant, and unsparing.
The usual occupations and amusements of life were at an
end. Terror had exterminated all the sentiments of nature.
Wives were deserted by husbands, and children by parents.
Some had shut themselves in their houses, and debarred
themselves from all communication with the rest of man-
kind. The consternation of others had destroyed their
understanding, and their misguided steps hurried them into
the midst of the danger which they had previously laboured
to shun. Men were seized by this disease in the streets;
passengers fled from them; entrance into their own dwell-
ings was denied to them ; they perished in the public ways.
13^ ARTHUR MERVYN.
The chambers of disease were deserted, and the sick left
to die of negligence. None could be fonnd to remove the
lifeless bodies. Their remains, suffered to decay by piece-
meal, filled the air with deadly exhalations, and added ten-
fold to the devastation.
Such was the tale, distorted and diversified a thousand
■ways, by the credulity and exaggeration of the tellers. At
first I listened to the story with indifference or mirth. Me-
thought it was confuted by its own extravagance. The
enormity and variety of such an evil made it unworthy to be
believed. I expected that every new day would detect the
absurdity and fallacy of such representations. Every new
day, however, added to the number of witnesses, and the
consistency of tlie tale, till, at length, it was not possible to
withhold my faith.
[- »33 3
1 HIS mmour was of a nature to absorb and sus-
pend the whole soul. A certain subhmity is connected with
enormous dangers, that imparts to our consternation or our
pity, a tincture of the pleasing. This, at least, may be
experienced by those who are beyond the verge of peril. My
own person was exposed to no hazard. I had leisure lo con-
jure up terrific images, and to personate the witnesses and
sufferers of this calamity. This employment was not enjoined
upon me by necessity, but was ardently pursued, and must
therefore have been recommended by some nameless charm.
Others were very differently affected. As often as the tale
was embellished with new incidents, or inforced by new tes-
timony, tlie hearer grew pale, his breath was stifled by
inquietudes, his blood was chilled and his stomach was
bereaved of its usual energies. A temporar)'^ indisposition
was produced in many. Some were haunted by a melan-
choly bordering upon madness, and some, in consequence of
sleepless panics, for which no cause could be assigned, and
for which no opiates could be found, were attacked by lin-
j^-ering or mortal dis-ases.
Mr. Hadwin was superior to groundless apprehensions.
His daughters, however, partook in all the consternation
which surrounded them. Tiie eldt-st had, indeed, abundrmt
« ason for hvr terror. The youth to whom she was bctrotlied,
resided in the city. A ye?r previous to this, he had left the
J 34 ARTHUR MERVYN.
house of Mr. Hadwln, who was his uncle, unJ had removed
to Philadelphia, in pursuit of fortune.
He made himself clerk to a merchant, and by some mer-
cantile adventures in which he had successfully engaged,
began to flatter himself with being able, in no long time, to
support a family. Meanwhile, a tender and constant corres-
pondence was maintained between him and his beloved Susan.
This girl was a soft enthusiast, in whose bosom devotion and
love glowed with an ardour that has seldom been exceeded.
The first tidings of the yellow fever, was heard by her with
unspeakable perturbation. Wallace was interrogated, by
letter, respecting its truth. For a time, he treated it as a
vague report. At length, a confession was extorted from
him that tliere existed a pestilential disease in the city, but,
he added, that it was hitherto confined to one quarter, dis-
tant from tlie place of his abode.
The most pathetic intreaties, were urged by her that he
would withdraw into the country. He declared his resolu-
tion to comply when the street in which he lived should
become infected, and his stay should be attended with real
danger. He stated how nmch his interests depended upon
the favour of his present employer, who had used the most
powerful arguments to detain him, but declared that, when
his situation should become, in the least degree, perillous, he
would slight every consideration of gratitude and interest,
and fly to Malverton. Meanwhile, he promised to commu-
nicate tidings of his safety, by every opportunity.
Belding, Mr. Hadwin's next neighbour, though net unin-
fected by the general panic, persisted to visit the city daily
with his market-cart. He set out by sun-rise, and usually
returned by noon. By him a letter was punctually received
by Susan. As the hour of Belding's return approached, her
impatience and anxiety increased. The daily epistle was
received and read, in a transport of eagerness. For a while,
her emotion subsided, but returned with augmented vehe-
mence at noon on the ensuing day.
ARTI^UR MERVYN. 135
These agitations were too vehement for a feeble constitu-
tion like her's. She renewed her supplications to Wallace
to quit the city. He repeated his assertions of being,
hitherto, secure, and his promise of coming when the danger
should be imminent. When Belding returned, and, instead
of being accompanied by Wallace, merely brought a letter
from him, the unhappy Susan would sink into fits of lamenta-
tion and weeping, and repel every effort to console her with
an obstinac) that partook of madness. It was, at length,
manifest, that Wallace's delays would be fatally injurious to
the health of his mistress.
Mr. Hadwin had hitherto been passive. He conceived
that the intreatics and remonstrances of his daughter were
more likely to influence the conduct of Wallace, than any
representations which he could make. Nov/, however, he wrote
the contumacious Wallace a letter, in which he laid his
commands upon him to return in company with Belding, and
declared that by a longer delay, the youth would forfeit his
The malady had, at this time, made considerable progress.
Belding's interest at length yielded to his fears, and this was
the last journey which he proposed to make. Hence our
impatience for the return of Wallace was augmented; since,
if this opportunity were lost, no suitable conveyance might
again be offered him.
Belding set out, as usual, at the dawn of day. The cus-
tomary interval between his departure and return, was spent
by Susan, in a tunrailof hopes and fears. As noon approached
her suspense arose to a pitch of wildntss and agony. Siie
could scarcelv be restrained from runnin^: alon'.v the road,
many miles, towards the city; that she might, by meeting
Belding halfway, the sooner ascertain the fate of her lover.
She stationed herself at a window which overlooked the road
along which Belding was to pass.
Her sister, and her father, th.ough less impatient, marked,
with painful eagerness, the first ^oijnd of the approaching
13^ ARTHUR MERVYN.
vehicle. They snatched a look at it as soon as It appcnrcii
in sight. Beldlng was without a companion.
This confirmation of her fears, overwhelmed the unhappy
Sus'in. She sunk into a fit, from which, for a lono- time, her
recovery was hop-less. This was succeeded by paroxysms
of a furious insanity, in which she attempted to snatch any
p®iuted implement which lay within her reach, v/ith a view
to destroy herself. These being carefully removed, or forci-
bly wrested from her, she resigned herself to sobs and ex-
Having interroq,ated Belding, he informed us tl:at he
occupied his r.sual post in the market place; that heretofore,
Wallace had duly sought him out, and exchanged letters;
but, that on this morning, the young man had not made his
appearance ; though Belding had been induced, by his wish
to see him, to prolong his stay in the city, much beyond the
Tliat some other cause than sickness had occasioned this
omission, was barely possible. There was scarcely room for
the most sanguine temper to indulge an hope. Wallace was
without kindred, and probably without friends, in the city.
The merchant, in whose service he had placed himself, was
connected with him by no consideration but that of interest.
What then must be his situation when seized with a malady
"which all believed to be contagious ; and the fear of which,
was able to dissolve the strongest ties that bind human being*
I was personally a stranger to this youth, I had seen hig
letters, and they bespoke, not indeed any great refinement or
elevation of intelligence, but a frank and generous spirit, to
•which I could not refuse my esteem; but his chief claim to
my affection consisted in his consanguinity to Mr. Hadwin,
and his place in the affections of Susan. His welfare was
essential to the happiness of those, whose happiness had
become essential to mine. I witnessed the outrages of des-
pair in the daughter, and the symptoms of a deep, but less
ARTHUR MERVVX. J37
violent grief, In the sister and parent. Was it not possible
for me to alleviate their pangs ? Could not the fate of Wal-
lace be ascertained?
This disease assailed men with different degrees of malig-
nitv. In its worst form perhaps it was incurable; but in
some of its modes, it was doubtless conquerable by the skill
of physicians, and the fidelity of nurses. In its least formi-
dable symptoms, negligence and solitude would render it
Wallace might, perhaps, experience tlils pest in its most
lenient degree: but the desertion of all mankind; the want,
not'-only of medicines, but of food, would irrevocably seal his
doom. My imagination was incessantly pursued by the
image of this youth, perishing alone, and in obscurity; call-
ing on the name of distant friends, or invoking, ineffectually,
the succour of those who were near.
Hitherto distress had been contemplated at a distance, and
through the medium of a fancy delighting to be startled
by the wonderful, or transported by sublimity. Now the
calamity- had entered my own doors, imaginary evils were
supplanted by real, and my heart was the seat of commi-
seration and horror.
I found myself unfit for recreation or employment. I
shrouded myself in the gloom of the neighbouring forest, or
lost myself in the maze of rocks and dells. I endeavoured,
in vain, to shut out the phantoms of the dying Wallace, and
to forget the spectacle of domestic woes. At length, it
occurred to me to ask. May not this evil be obviated, and the
felicity of the Hadwins re-established ? Wallace is friendless
and succourlcss; but cannot I supply to hiiii the place of
protector and nurse? Why not hasten to the city, search out
his abode, and ascertain whether he be living or dead? If he
still retain life, may I not, by consolation and atttndance,
contribute to the restoration of his health, and conduct hici
once more to the bosom of his family ?
ijS ARTHUR MERVYN.
With what transports will his iirrival be hailed? Hovr
amply will their impatience and their sorrow be compensated
by his return! In the spectacle of their joys, how rapturous
and pure will be my delight 1 Do t!ie benefits which 1 have
received from the Hadwins demand a less retribution than
It is true, that my own life will be endangered; but my
danger will be proportioned to the duration of my stay in this
seat of infection. The death or the flight of Wallace may
absolve me from the necessity of spending one night in the city.
The rustics who dally frequent the market are, as experience
proves, exempt from this disease; in consequence, perhaps,
of limiting their continuance in the city to a few hours.
May I not, in this respect, conform to their example, and
tnjoy a similar exemption?
My stay, however, may be longer than the day. I may be
condemned to share in the common destiny. What then?
Life is dependent on a thousand contingencies, not to be com-
puted or foreseen. The seeds of an early and lingering death
are sown in my constitution. It is vain to hope to escape tlie
malady by which my mother and my brothers have died. We
are a race, whose existence some inherent property has
limited to the short space of twenty years. We are exposed,
in common with the rest of mankind, to innumerable casual-
ities; but if these be shunned, we are unalterably fated to-
perish by consumption. Why then should I scruple to lay
down my life in the cause of virtue and humanity? It is
better to die, in the consciousness of having offered an
heroic sacrifice; to die by a speedy stroke, than by the per-
▼erseness of nature, in ignominious inactivity, and lingering
These considerations determined mc to hasten to the city.
To mention my purpose to the Hadwins would be useless or
pernicious. It would only augment the sum of their present
anxieties. I should meet with a thousand obstacles in the
tenderness and terror of Eliza, and in the prudent affcctipn
ARTHUR MERVVN. 13^
of her father. Their arguments I should be condemned to
hear, but should not be able to confute; and sb.ould only-
load myself with imputations of perverseness and temerity.
But how else should I explain my absence ? I had hitherto
preserved my lips untainted by prevarication or falsehood.
Perhaps there was no occasion which would justify an un-
truth ; but here, at least, it was superfluous or hurtful. My
disappearance, if effected without notice or warning, will give
birth to speculation and conjecture ; but my true motives
•will never be suspected, and therefore will excite no fears.
My conduct will not be charged with guilt. It will merely
be thought upon with some regret, which will be alleviated
by the opinion of my fafety, and the daily expectation of my
But, since my purpose was to search out Wallace, I must
be previously furnished with directions to the place of his
abode, and a description of his person. Satisfaction ®n this
head was easily obtained from Mr. Hadwin; who was
prevented from suspecting the motives of my curiosity, by
my questions being put in a manner apparently casual. He
mentioned tse street, and the number of the house.
I hstened with surprise. It was an house with which I was
already familiar. He resided, it seems, with a merchant. Was
it possible for me to be mistaken?
What, I asked, was the merchant's name?
This was a confirmation of my first conjecture. I recol-
lected the extraordinary means by which I had gained access
to the house and bed-chamber of this gentleman. 1 recal-
led the person and appearance of the youth by whose artincet
I had been intahgled in the snare. These artifices implied
some domestic or confidential connection between Thetford
and my guide. Wallace was a member of the fa'nily.
Could it be he by whom I was betrayed?
Suitable questions easily obtained from Hadwin a descrip-
tion of the person and carnage of his nephew. Every cir-
140 ARTHUR MERVYX.
cumstance evlncecl the identity of their persons. Wallace,
then, was the engaguig and sprightly youth whom I had en-
countered at Lesher's; and who, for purposes not hitherto
discoverable, had led me into a situation so romantic and
I was far from suspecting that these purposes were crimi-
nal. It was easy to infer that his conduct proceeded from
juvenile wantonness, and a love of sport. My resolution was
imaltcred by this disclosure ; and having obtained all the infor-
mation which I needed, 1 secretly began my journey.
My reflections, on the way, were sufRciently employed in
tracing the consequences of my project; in computing the
inconveniences and dangers to which I was preparing to sub-
ject myself; in fortifying my courage against the influence
of rueful sights and abrupt transitions; and in imagining
the measures which it would be proper to pursue in every
Connected as these views were with the family and cha-
racter of Thetford, I could not but sometimes advert to those
incidents v/hich formerly happened. The mercantile alliance
between him and Welbeck was remembered; the allusions
^vhich were made to the condition of the latter in the cham-
ber conversation, of which I was an unsuspected auditor; and
the relation which these allusions might possess with subse-
quent occurrences. Welbeck's property was forfeited. It
had been confided te the care of Thetford's brother. Had
the case of this forfeiture been truly or thoroughly explained?
Might not contraband articles have been admitted through
the management, or under the ccnnivkuce of the brothers ;
and might not the younger Thetford be furnished with the
means of purchasing the captured vessel and lier cargo;
which, as usual, would be sold by auction at a fifth or tenth
of its real value?
Welbeck was not alive to profit by the detection of this
artifice, admitting these conclusions to be just. My know-
ledge will be useless to the world; for by wUdt motives can
ARTHUR MERVYN. I4t
I be Infiuenced to publish the truth; or by whom will my
smgle testimony be believed, in opposition to that plausible
exterior, and, perhaps, to that general integrity which Thet-
ford has nnlntained? To myself it will not be unprofitable.
It is a lesson on the principles of human nature; on the delu-
siveness of appearances ; on the perviousness of fraud ; and
on the pov;er with which nature has invested human beings
over the thoughts and actions of each other.
Thetford and his frauds were dismissed from my thouglits,
to give place to considerations relative to ClemeKza Lodi,
ind the money which chance had thrown into my possession.
Time had only confirmed my purpose to restore these bills to
the rightful proprietor, and heightened my impatience to
discover her retreat. I reflected, that the means of doing
this were more likely to suggest themselves at the place to
which I was going than elsewhere. I might, indeed, perish
before my views, in this respect, could be accomplished.
Against these evils, I had at present no power to provide.
While I lived, I would bear perpetually about me the volume
and its precious contents. If I died, a superior power must
direct the course of this as of all other events.
1 HESE meditations did not enfeeble my reso-
lution, or slacken my pace. In proportion as I drew near the
city, the tokens of its calamitous condition became more
apparent. Every farm-house was filled with supernumerary
tenants; fugitives from home; and haunting the skirts of
the road, eager to detain every passenger with inquiries after
news. The passengers were numerous; for the tide of emi-
gration was by no means exhausted. Some were on foot,
bearing in their countenances the tokens of their recent
terror, and filled with mournful reflections on the forlorn-
ness of their state. Few had secured to themselves an
asylum ; some were without the m.eans of paying for victuals
or lodging for the coming night; others, who were not
thus destitute, yet knew not whither to apply for entertain-
ment, every bouse being already over-stocked with inhabi-
tants, or barring its inhospitable doors at their approach.
Families of weeping mothers, and dismayed cliilJren,
attended with a few pieces of indispensable furniture, were
carried in vehicles of every form. The parent or husband
had perisiied ; and the price of some moveable, or the pittance
handed forth by public charity, had been expended to pur-
chase the means of retiring from this theatre of disasters;
though uncertain and hopeless of accommodation in the
ARTHUR MERVYN. 145
Between these and the fuijitives whom curiosity had led
to the road, dialogues frequently took place, to which I was
suffered to listen. From every mouth the tale of sorrow was
repeated with new aggravations. Pictures of their own dis-
tress, or of that of their neighbours, were exhibited in all the
hues which imagination can annex to pestilence and poverty.
My preconceptions of the evil now appeared to have fallen
short of the truth. The dangers into which I was rushing,
seemed more numerous and imminent than 1 had previously
imagined. I v/avercd not in my purpose. A panick crepe
to my heart, which more vehement exertions were necessary
to subdue or control; but I harboured not a momentary
doubt that the course which I had taken was prescribed by
duty. There was no difficulty or reluctance in proceeding.
All for which my efforts were demanded, was to walk in this
path without tumult or alarm.
Various circumstances had hindered me from setting out
upon this journey as early as was proper. My frequent pauses
to listen to the narratives of travellers, contributed likewise
to procrastination. The sun had nearly set before I reached
the precincts of the city. I pursued the track which I had
formerly taken, and entered High-street after night-fall.
Instead of equipages and a throng of passengers, the voice of
levity and glee, which I had formerly observed, and which
the mildness of the season would, at other times, have pro-
duced, I found nothing but a dreary solitude.
The market-place, and each side of this magnificent ave-
nue were illuminated, as before, by lamps; but between th«
verge of Schuylkill and the heart of the city, I met not more
than a dozen figures; and these were ghost-like, wrapt in
cloaks, from, behind which theycastupon me glances of wonder
and suspicion; and, as I approached, changed their course, to
avoid touching me. Their clothes v/ere sprinkled with vine-
gar; and their nostrils defended from contagion by soma
144 ARTHUR MERVYN.
I cast a look upon the houses, which I recollected to haw
formerly been, at this hour, brilliant with lights, resounding
^vith lively voices, and thronged with busy faces. Now they
■were closed, above and below ; dark, and without tokens of
being inhabited. From the upper windows of some, a gleam
sometimes fell upon the pavement I was traversing, and
shewed that their tenants had not fled, but were secluded or
These tokens were new, and awakened all my panicks.
Death seemed to hover over this scene, and I dreaded that
the floating pestilence had already lighted on my frame. I had
scarcely overcome these tremors, when I approached an house,
the door of which was open, and before w^hich stood a vehicle^
which I presently recognized to be an hearse.
The driver was seated on it. I stood still to mark his
visage, and to observe the course which he proposed to take.
Presently a coffin, borne by two men, issued from the house.
The driver was a negro, but his companions were white. Their
features were marked by ferocious indifference to danger or
pity. One of them as he assisted in thrusting the coffin into
the cavity provided for it, said, I'll be damned if I think the
^p.or.dog was quite dead. It wasn't X.\\t fever that ailed him,
but the sight of the girl and her mother on the floor. I won-
der how they all got into that room. What carried them
The other surlily muttered. Their legs to be sure.
But what should they hug together in one room for?
To save us trouble to be sure.
And I thank them with all my heart; but damn it, It
wisn't right to put him in his coffin before the breath was
fairly gone. I thought the lust look he gave me, told me to
st:iy a few minutes.
Pshaw 1 lie could not live. The sooner dead the better
for him; as well as for us. Did you mark how he eyed us,
when we carried away his wife and daughter? I never cried
in my life, s'.nce 1 was knee-higli, but curse me if I ever felt
ARTHUR MERV7N. 145
in i>f ttcr tunc for the business than just then. Hey ! conti-
nued he, looking up, and observing me standing a few pacei
distant, and listening to their discourse, What's wanted?
Any body dead ?
I stayed not to answer or parly, but hurried forward. My
joints trembled, and cold drops stood on my forehead. I was
ashamed of my own infirmity ; and by vigorous efforts of
my reason, regained some degree of composure. The even-
ing had now advanced, and it behoved me to procure accom-
modation at some of the inns.
These were easily distinguished by their signs, but many
were without inhabitants. At length, I lighted upon one,
the hall ©f which was open, and the windows lifted. After
knocking for some time, a young girl appeared, with many
marks of distress. In answer to my question, she answered
that both her parents were sick, and that they could receive
no one. I inquired, in vain, for any other tavern at which
strangers might be accommodated. She knew of none such ;
and left me, on some one's calling to her from above, in the
midst of my embarrassment. After a moment's pause, I re*
turned, discomforted and perplexed, to the street.
I proceeded, in a considerable degree, at random. At
length, I reached a spacious building, in Fourth-street, which
the sign-post shewed me to be an inn. I knocked loudly and
often at the door. At length, a female opened the window
of the second story, an J, in a tone of peevishness, demanded
•what I wanted? I told her that I wanted lodging.
Go hunt for it somewhere else, said she ; you'll find none
here. I began to expostulate ; but she shut the window with
quickness, and left me to my own reflections.
I began now to feel some regret at the journey I had
taken. Never, in the depth of caverns or forests, was I
equally conscious of loneliness. I was surrounded by the
kabitations of men ; but I was destitute of associate or friend.
I had money, but an horse shelter, or a morsel of food,
could not be purchased. I came for the purpose of relieving
146 ARTHUR lAIERVYN.
others, but stood in the utmost need myself. Even In health
my condition was helpless and forlorn ; but what would
become of me, should this fatal malady be contracted. To
hope that an asylum would be afforded to a sick man, which
was denied to one in health, was unreasonable.
The first impulse which flowed from these reflections, was
to hasten back to Malverton; which, with sufficient dili-
gence, I might hope to regain before the morning light. I
could not, methought, return upon my steps with too much
speed. I was prompted to run, as if the pest was rushing
upon me, and could be eluded only by the most precipitate
This impulse was quickly counteracted by new ideas. I
thought with indignation and shame on the imbecility of my
proceeding. I called up the images of Susan Hadwin, and
of Wallace. I reviewed the motives which had led me to
the undertaking of this journey. Time had, by no means,
diminished their force. 1 had, incleed, nearly arrived at the
accomplishment of what I had intended. A few steps would
carry me to Thetford's habitation. This might be the cri-
tical moment, when succour was most needed, and would
be most efficacious.
1 had previously concluded to defer going thither till the
enusing morning; but why should 1 allow myself a moment's
delay? 1 might at least gain an external view of the house,
and circumstances might arise, which would absolve me from
the obligation of remaining an hour longer in the city. All
for which 1 came might be performed; the destiny of Wal-
lace be ascertained; and I be once more safe within tlie pre-
cincts of Mjlverton before the return of day.
I immediately directed my steps towards the habitation
of Thctford. Carriages bearing the dead were frequently-
discovered. A few passengers likewise occurred, whose
hasty and perturbed steps, denoted their participation In the
common distress. The house, of which I was in quost,
ARTHUR MERVYN. ^147
quickly appeared. Light, from an upper window, indicated
that it was still inhabited.
I paused a moment to reflect in what manner it became
me to proceed. To ascertain the existence and condition of
Wallace was the purpose of my journey. He had inhabited
this house; and whether he remained in it, was now to be
known. I felt repugnance to enter, since my safety might,
by entering, be unawares and uselessly endangered. Most of
the neighbouring houses were apparently deserted. In some
there were various tokens of people being within. Might I
not inquire, at one of these, respecting the condition of Thet-
ford's family ? Yet why should I disturb them by inquiries so
impertinent, at this unseasonable hour? To knock at Thet-
ford's door, and put my questions to him who should obey
the signal, was the obvious method.
I knocked dubiously and lightly. No one cam?. I knocked
again, and more loudly ; I likewise drew the bell. I distinctly
heard its distant peals. If any were within, my signal could
not fail to be noticed. I paused, and listened, but neither
voice nor foot-steps could be heard. The light, though ob-
scured by window curtains, which seemed to be drawn close,
was still perceptible.
I ruminated on the causes that might hinder my summons
from being obeyed. I figured to myself nothing but the
helplessness of disease, or the inserisibllity of death. Tliese
images only urged me to persist in endeavouring to obtain
admission. Without weighing the consequences of my act,
I involuntarily lifted the latch. The door yielded to mj
hand, and I put my feet within the passage.
Once more I paused. The passage was of considerable
extent, and at the end of it I perceived light as from a lam.p
or candle. This impelled me to go forward, till I reached
the foot of a stair-case. A candle stoocfupon the lowest step.
This was a new proof that the house was not deserted. I
struck my heel against the floor with some violence ; but this,
like my former signals, was unnoticed. Having proceeded
1^8 ARTHUR MERVYN.
thus far, it would have been absurd to retire with my pur-
pose uneffected. Taking the candle in my hand, I opened
a door that was near. It led into a spacious parlour, furnished
■with profusion and splendour. I walked to and fro, gazing
at the objects which presented themselves; and involved in
perplexity, I knocked with my heel louder than ever; but
00 less ineffectually.
Notwithstanding the lights which I had seen, it was pos-
sible that the house was uninhabited. This 1 was resolved
to ascertain, by proceeding to the chamber which I had
observed, from without, to be illuminated. This chamber,
as far as the comparison of circumstances would permit me
to decide, I believed to be the same in which 1 had passed the
ilrst ni-^ht of my late abode in the city. Now was I, a second
time, in almostequal ignorance of my situation, andof the con-
sequences which impended exploring my way to the same
I mounted the stair. As I approached the door of which
1 was in search, a vapour, infectious and deadly, assailed my
senses. It resembled nothing of which I had ever before
been sensible. Many odours had been met with, even since
my arrival in the city, less supportable than this. I seemed
not so much to smell as to taste the element that now encom-
passed me. 1 felt as if I had inhaled a poisonous and subtle
fluids whose power instantly bereft my stomach of all vigour.
Some fatal influence appeared to seize upon my vitals; and
the work of corrosion and decomposition to be busily begun.
For a moment, I doubted whether imagination had not
fome share in producing my sensation ; but I had not been
previously panick-struck; and even now I attended to my
own sensations without mental discomposure. That I had
imbibed this disease was not to be questioned. So far the
chances in my favour were annihilated. The lot of sickness
Whether my case would be lenient or malignant; whe-
ther I should recover or perish, was to be left to the decision
ARTHUR MERVVN. 149
of the future. This Incident, Instead of appnlling me, tended
rather to invigorate my courage. The danger which 1 feared
had come. I might enter with indifference, on this theatre
of pestilence, I might execute without faultering, the duties
that my circumstances might create. My state was no longer
hazardous ; and my destiny would be totally uninfluenced by
my future conduct.
The pan^- with which I was first seized, and the momentary
inclination to vomit, which it produced, presently subsided.
My wholesome feelings, indeed, did not revisit me, but
strength to proceed was restored to me. The enluvia became
more sensible as 1 approached the door of the chamber. The
door was ajar; and the light within was perceived. My
belief, that those within were dead, was presently confuted
by a sound, which I first supposed to be that of steps moving
quickly and timorously across the floor. This ceased, and
was succeeded by sounds of different, but inexplicable
Having entered the apartment, I saw a candle on the
hearth. A table was covered with vials and other apparatus
of a sick chamber. A bed stood on one side, the curtain of
which was dropped at the foot, so as to conceal any one
within. I fixed my eyes upon this object. There were suf-
ficient tokens that some one lay upon the bed. Breath, drawn
at long intervals; mutterings scarcely audible; and a tremu-
lous motion in the bedstead, were fearful and intelligible
If my heart faultered, it must not be supposed that my
trepidations arose from any selfish considerations. Wallace
only, the object of my search, was present to my fancy.
Pervaded with remembrance of the Hadwin's; of the agonies
which they had already endured ; of the despair which would
overwhelm the unhappy Susan, when the death of her lover
should be ascertained; observant of the lonely condition of
this house, whence I could only infer that the iick had been
denied suitable attendance; and reminded by the svmptoms
150 ARTHUR MERVYN.
that appeared, that this being was struggling with the agonlci
of death ; a sickness of the heart, more insupportable than
that which I had just experienced stole upon me.
My fancy readily depicted the progress and completion of
this tragedy. Wallace was the first of the family on whom
the pestilence had seized. Thetford had fled from his habi-
tation. Perhaps, as a father and husband, to shun the danger
attending his stay, was the injunction of his duty. It was
questionless the conduct which selfish regards would dictate.
Wallace was left to perish alone ; or, perhaps, which indeed
was a supposition somewhat justified by appearances, he had
been left to the tendence of mercenary wretches ; by whom,
at this desperate moment he had been abandoned.
I was not mindless of the possibility that these forebodings,
specious as they were, might be false. The dying person
might be some other than Wallace. The whispers of my
hope were, indeed, faint; but they, at least, prompted me to
snatch a look at the expiring man. For this purpose, I ac!-
Tanced and thrust my head within the curtain.
I ^5t ]
1 HE features of one whom I had se;n so transiently
as Wallace, may be imagined to be not easily recognized,
especially when those features were tremulous and deathful.
Here, however, the differences were too conspicuous to mis-
lead me. I beheld one to whom I could recollect none that
bore resemblance. Though ghastly and livid, the traces of
intelligence and beaut)'^ were undefaced. The life of Wal-
lace was of more value to a feeble individual, but surely the
Ifeeing that was stretched before me and who was hastening to
his last breath was precious to thousands.
Was he not one in whose place I would willingly have
died? The offering was too late. His extremities were
already cold. A vapour, noisome and contagious, hovered
over him. The fiutterings of his pulse had ceased. His exis-
tence was about to close amidst convulsion and pangs.
I withdrew my gaze from this object, and walked to a
table. I was nearly unconscious of my movements. TiTy
thoughts were occupied with contemplations of the train of
horrors and disasters that pursue the race of man. My musings
were quickly internjpted by the sight of a small cabinet the
hinges of which were broken and the lid half-raised. In the
present state of my thoughts, I wsls prone to suspect the
worst. Here were traces of pillage. Some casual or mer-
cenary attendant, had not only contributed to hasten the
4cath of the patient, but had rifled his property and fled.
152 ARTHUR MERVYN.
This suspicion would, perhaps, have yielded to mature
reflections, if I had been suffered to reflect. A moment
scarcely elapsed, when some appearance in the mirror, which
hung over the table, called my attention. It was a human
figure, nothing could be briefer than the glance that I fixed
upon this apparition, yet there was room enough for the
vague conception to suggest itself, that the dying man had
started from his bed and was approaching me. Tliis belief
was, at the same instant, confuted, by the survey of his form
and garb. One eye, a scar upon his cheek a tawny skin, a
form grotesquely misproportioned, brawny as Hercules, and
habited inlivery, composed, as it were, the parts of one view.
To perceive, to fear, and to confront this apparition were
blended into one sentiment. I turned towards him with the
swiftness of lightning, but my speed was useless to my safety.
A blow upon my temple was succeeded by an utter oblivion
of thought and of feeling. I sunk upon the floor prostrate
My insensibility might be mistaken by observers for death,
yet some part of this interval was haunted by a fearful dream.
I conceived myself lying on the brink of a pit whose bottom
the eye could not reach. My hands and legs were fettered,
so as to disable me from resisting two grim and gigantic
figures, who stooped to lift me from the earth. Their pur-
pose methoHghc was to cast me into this abyss. My terrors
were unspeakable, and I struggled with such force, that my
bonds snapt and I found myself at liberty. At this moment
my senses returned and 1 opened my eyes.
The memory of recent events was, for a time, effaced by
my visionary horrors. I was conscious of transition from
one state of being to another, b it my imagination was still
filled with images of danger. The bottomless gulf and my
gigantic persecutors were still dreaded. I looked up with
eagerness. Beside me [discovered three fit.;ures, whose cha-
racter or ofllce were ex])l lined by ac^flin of pine-boards which
lay upon the floor. One ^.tood with hammer and nails in his
ARTHUR MERVYX. 153
hand, as ready to replace and fasten the Ikl of the cofEn, as
soon as its burthen should be received.
I attempted to rise from the floor, but my head was dizzy
and my sight confused. Perceiving me revive, one of the
men, assisted me to regain my feet. The mist and confu-
sion presently vanished, so as to allow me to stand unsup-
ported and to move. I once more gazed at my attendants,
and recognized the three men, whom I had met in High-
street, and whose conversation I have mentioned that I over-
heard. I looked again upon the cofiin. A wavering recol-
lection of the incidents that led ine hither and of the stun-
ning blow which I had received, occurred to me. I saw
into what error, appearances had misled these men, and shud-
dered to reflect, by what hair-breadth means I had escaped
being buried alive.
Before the men had time to interrogate me, or to comment
upon my situation, one entered the apartment whose habit
and mein tended to incourage me. The stranger was cha-
racterised by an aspect full of composure and benignity, a
face in which the serious lines of age were blended with the
ruddiness and smoothness of youth, and a garb that bespoke
that religious profession, with whose benevolent doctrines
the example of Hadwin had rendered me familiar.
On observing me on my feet, he betrayed marks of sur-
pr'.se and Satisfaction. He addressed me in a tone of mild-
Yo.mg man, said he, what is thy condition? Art thou
sick t If tliou art, thou must consent to receive the best
treatment which the times will afford. These men will
convey thee to the hospital at Bush-Hill.
The mention of that contagious and abhorred receptacle,
inspired me with some degree of energy. No, said I, 1 am
not sick, a violent blow reduced me to this situation. I shall
presently recover strength enough to leave tliij spot, wltiiout
154 ARTHUR MERVYN.
He looked at me, with an Incredulous but compassionate
air : I fear thou dost deceive tliyself or me. The necessity
of going to the hospital is much to be regretted, but on the
uhole it is best. Perhaps, indeed, thou hast kindred or
friends who will take care of thee.
No, said I ; neitlier kindred nor friends. I am a stranger
in the city. I do not even know a single being.
Alas ! returned the stranger with a sigh, thy state is sor-
rowful — but how earnest thou hither? continued he, looking
around him, and whence comest thou ?
I came from the country. I reached the city, a few hours
ago. I was in search of a friend who lived in this house.
Thy undertaking was strangely hazardous and rash : but
■who is the friend thou seekest ? Was it he who died in
that bed, and whose corpse has just been removed?
The men now betrayed some impatience ; and inquired of
the last comer, whom they called Mr. Estwick, what they
were to do. He turned to me, and asked if I were willing
10 be conducted to the hospital ?
I assured him that 1 was free from disease, and stood
in no need of assistance ; adding, that my feeblenefs was
owing to a stunning blow received from a ruffian on my
temple. The marks of this blow were conspicuous, and
after some hesitation he dismissed the men ; who, lifting
the empty coffin on their flioulders, disappeared.
He now invited me to descend into the parlour: for, said
he, the air of this room is deadly. I feel already as it 1
should have reason to repent of having entered it.
He now inquired into the cause of those appearances which
he had witnessed. I explained my situation as clearly and
succinctly as I was able.
After ponderilig, in silence, on my ftory : — I see how it
is, said he : the person whom thou sawest in the agonies of
death was a stranger. He was attended by his servant and
an hired nurse. His master's death being certain, the nurse
was dispatched by the servant to procure a coffin. He pro-
ARTHUR MERVYN. 155
bjibly chose that opportunity to rifle his master's trunk, that
stood upon the table. Thy unseasonable entrance interrupted
him ; and he designed, by the blow which he gave thee, to
secure his retreat before the arrival of an hearse. I knovr
the man, and the apparition thou hast so well described, was
his. Thou sayest that a friend of thine lived in this house—
Thou hast come too late to be of service. The whole family
have perished — Not one was suffered to escape.
This intelligence was fatal to my hopes. It required some
efforts to subdue my rising emotions. Compassion not only
for Wallace, but for Thetford, his father, his wife and his
child ; caused a passionate effusion of tears. 1 was ashamed
of this useless and child-like sensibility; and attempted to
apologize to my companion. The sympathy, however, had
proved contagious, and the stranger turned away his face to
hide his own tears.
Niiy, said he, in answer to my excuses, there is no need
to be ashamed of thy emotion. Merely to have known this
family, and to have witnessed their deplorable fate, is suf-
ficient to melt the moft obdurate heart. I suspect that thou
wast united to some one of this family, by ties of tenderness
like those which led the unfortunate Maravegli hither.
This suggestion was attended, in relation to myself, with
some degree of obscurity; but my curiosity was somewhat
excited by the name that he had mentioned. I inquired into
the character and situation of this person, and particularly
respecting his connection with this family.
Maravegli, answered he, was the lover of the eldest
daughter and already betrothed to her. The whole family,
consisting- of helpless females, had placed themselves under
his peculiar guardianship. Mary Walpole and her children
enjoyed in him an husband and a father.
The name of Walpole, to which I was a stranger, sug-
gested doubts which I hastened to communicate. I am
in search, said I, not of a female friend, though not devoid
15^ ARTHUR MERVYN.
of interest in the welfare of Thetford and his family. My
principal concera is for a youth, by name, Wallace.
He looked at me with surprise. Thetford 1 this is not his
abode. He changed his habitation some weeks previous to
the fever. Those who last dwelt under this roof were an
English woman, and seven daughters.
This detection of my error somewhat consoled me. It
was still possible that Wallace was alive and in safety. I
eagerly inquired whither Thetford had removed, and whe-
ther he had any knowledge of his present condition.
They had removed to number , in Market-street.
Concerning their state he knew nothing. His acquaintance
with Thetford was imperfect. Whether he had left the city
or had remained, he was wholly uninformed.
It became me to ascertain the truth in these respects. I
was preparing to offer my parting thanks to the person by
whom I had been so highly benefitted ; since, as he now
informed, it was by his interposition that I was hindered from
being inclosed alive in a coffin. He was dubious of my true
condition, and peremptorily commanded the followers of the
hearse to desist. A delay of twenty minutes, and some
medical application, would, he believed, determine whether
my life was extinguished or suspended. At the end of this
time, happily, my senses were reco^iered.
Seeing my intention to depart he inquired why, and whither
I was going? Having heard my answer. Thy design re-
sumed he, is highly indiscrete and rash. Nothing will sooner
generate this fever than fatigue and anxiety. Thou hast
rxarccly recovered from the blow so lately received. Instead
of being useful to others this precipitation will only disable
t!)y:iL'If. Instead of roaming the streets and inhaling this
unwholesome air, thou hadst better betake thyself to bed
and try to obtain some sleep. In the morning, thou wilt be
better qualified to a'.icertuln the f:ite of thy friend, and afford
J^m the relief wliich he shkll want.
ARTHUR MERVYN. 157
I could not but admit the reasonableness of these remon-
strances, but where should a chamber and bed be sought?
It was not likely that a new attempt to procure accommoda-
tion at the Inns would succeed better than the former.
Thy state, replied he, is sorrowful. I have no house to
"which I can lead thee. I divide my chamber and even my
bed with another, and my landlady could not be prevailed upon
to admit a stranger. What thou wilt do, I know not. This
house has no one to defend it. It was purchased and furnished
by the last possessor, but the whole family, including mistress
children and servants, were cut off in a single week. Per-
haps, no one in America can claim the property. Meanwhile
plunderers are numerous and active. An house thus totally
deserted, and replenished with valuable furniture will, I fear,
become their prey. To night, nothing can be done towards
rendering it secure, but staying in it. Art thou willing to
remain here till the morrow ?
Every bed in the house has probably sustained a dead per-
son. It would not be proper, therefore, to lie in any one of
them. Perhaps, thou mayest find some repose upon this car-
pet. It is, at least, better than the harder pavement, and
the open air.
This proposal, after some hesitation, I embraced. He was
preparing to leave me, promising, if life were spared to him,
to return early in the morning. My curiosity respecting the
person whose dying agonies I had witnessed, prompted me to
detain him a few minutes.
Ahl said he, this perhaps, is the only one of many victims to
this pestilence whose loss the remotest generations may have
reason to deplore. He was the only dcsccndent of an illus-
trious houfe of Venice. He has been devoted from his child-
hood to the acquisition of knowledge and the practice of vir-
tue. He came hither, as an enlightened observer, and after
traversing the country, conversing with all the men in it
eminent for their talents or their office; and collecting a
fund of observations, whose solidity and justice have scl-
158 ARTHUR MERVYN.
dom been paralleled, he embarked, three months ago, for
Previously to his departure, he formed a tender connection
"with the eldest daughter of this family. The mother and
her children had recently arrived from England. So many
faultless women, both mentally and personally considered, it
was not my fortune to meet with before. This youth well
deserved to be adopted into this family. He proposed to
return with the utmost expediroii to his native country, and
after the settlement of his affairs, to hasten back to America,
and ratify his contract with Fanny Walpole.
The ship in which he embarked, had scaixely gone twenty-
leagues to sea, before she was disabled by a storm, and oblig-
ed to return to port. He posted to New- York, to gain a pas-
sage in a packet shortly to sail. Meanwhile this malady
prevailed among us. Mary Walpole was hindered by her
ignorance of the nature of that evil which assailed us, and
the counsel of injudicious friends, from taking the due pre-
cautions for her safety. She hesitated to fly till flight was
rtjulered impracticable. Here death added to the helplss-
ness and distraction of the family. They were successively
seized and destroyed *by the same pest.
Maravrgli was apprised of their danger. He allowed the
packet to depart without him, and hastened to the rescue of
the Walpoles from the perils which encompassed them. He
arrived in this city time enough to witness the interment of
the last survivor. In the sanie hour lie was seized himself
by this disease : the catastrophe is known to thee.
I will now leave thee to thy repose. Sleep is no less need-
ful to myself than to thee: for this is the second night which
has past Without it — Saying this, my companion took his
1 now enjoyed leisure to review my situation, I experi-
enced no inclination to sleep. I lay down tor a moment,
but my comfortless sensations and restless contemplations
would n^ permit me to rest. Before 1 entered this roof, I
ARTHUR MERV\TSr. I5f
I was tormented with hunger, bat my craving had given
place to inquietude and loathing. I paced, in thoughtful and
anxious mood, across the floor of the apartment. /
I mused upon the incidents related by Estwick, upon the
exterminating nature of this pestilence, and on the horrors
of which it was productive. I compared the experience of
the last hours, with those pictures which my imagination
had drawn in the retirements of Ma\'ert?n, I wondered at
the contrariety that exists between the scenes cf the city and
the country; and festered with more zeal than ever, the
resolution to avoid these seats of depravity and danger.
Concerning my own destiny, however, I entertained no
doubt. My nev>' sensations assured me that m,y stomach had
received this cerosive poison. Whether I should die or live
was easily decided. The sickness which assiduous atten-
dence and powerful prescriptions might remove, would, by
negligence and soliiude, be rendered fatal : but from whom
could I expect medical or friendly treatment?
I had indeed a roof over my head. I should not perish
in the public wa\ : bat what was my ground for Japing to
continue under this roof? My sickness being suspected, I
should be dragged in a cart to the hospital; where should,
indeed die ; but not with the consolation of loneliness and
silence. Dying groans were the only music, and livid corpses
were the only spectacle to which I should there be intro-
Immured in these dreary meditations, the night passed
away. The li ^\\X. glancing through the window awakened
in my bosnm a gleam of cheerfuln.^ss. Contrary to my
expectations, my feelhi^s were not more d stemj^ered, not-
withstanding my want of sleep, than on the 1 *st evening.
This was a token that my state was far from being so des-
perate as I suspected. It was possible, I thought, that this
was the worst indisposition to which I was liable.
Meanwhile the coming of Estwick was impatiently ex-
pected. The sun arose, and the m.orning advanc^, but he
i6o ARTHUR MERVYN.
came not. I remembered that he talked of having reason to
repent his visit to this house. Perhaps, he likewise, was
sick, and that this was the cause of his delay. This man's
kindness had even my love. If I had known the way to his
dwelling, I should have hastened thither, to inquire into his
condition, and to perform for him every office that humanity
might enjoin, but he had not aiTorded me any information
on that head.
[ "^I 1
1 T v.-as now incunbent on me to seek the habi-
tation of Thet/or.l. To leave this house accessible to every
passcn;^er appeared to be imprudent. I had no key by
which I might lock the principal door. I therefore bolted
it on the iniide, and passed through a window, the shutters
of whlcli 1 closed, though I could not fasten after me. Tliis
led me into a spacious court, at the end of which was a brick
wall; over which I leap^^d into the strcrt. This was the
means by v,^hich I had fonncr'y escaped from the same
The streets, as I passed, were desolate and silent. I
The largest computation made the number of fugitives
two-thirds of %ie whole people ; yet, judging by the
universal desolation, it seemed, as if the solitude were
nearly absolute. That so many of the houses were closed,
I was obliged to ascribe to the cessation of traffic,
which made the opening of their windows useless, and
the terror of infection, which made the inhabitants seclude
themselves from the observation of each other.
I proceeded to search .out the house to wliich Estwjck had
directed me, as the ubo.le of Thetford. What was my con-
st^rnat'on when I found it to be the same, at the door of
which the convers;ition took place, of which i had been an
auditor on the kst evening-.
1 62 ARTHUR MERVYN.
I recalled the scene, of which a rude sketch had been given
by the hearse-men. If such were the fate of the master of
the family, abounding with money and friends, what could
be hoped for the moneyless and friendless Wallace? The
house appeared to be vacant and silent; but these tokens
might deceive. There was little room for hope ; but cer-
tainty was wanting, and might, perhaps, be obtained by enter-
ing the house. In some of the upper rooms a wretched being-
might be immured; by whom the information, so earnestly
desired, might be imparted, and to whom my presence might
bring relief; not only from pestilence, but famine. For a
moment, I forgot my own necessitous condition ; and reflected
not that abstinence had already undermined my strength.
1 proceeded to knock at the door. That my signal was
unnoticed, produced no surprize. The door was unlocked,
and I opened. At this moment my attention Avas attracted
by the opening of another door near me. I looked, and per-
ceived a man issuing forth from an house at a small distance.
It now occurred to me, that the information which I sought
might possibly be gained from one of Thetford's neighbours.
7'his person was aged, but seemed to have lost neither cheer-
fulness nor vigour. He had an air of intrepidity and calm-
ness. It soon appeared that I was the object of his curiosity.
He had, probably, marked my deportment through some
window of his dwelling, and had come forth to make inquiries
into the motives of my conduct.
He courteously saluted me. You seem, said he, to be In
search of some one. If I can afford you the information you
want, you will be welcome to it.
Encouraged by this address, 1 mentioned the nameof Thet-
ford ; and added my fears that he had not escaped the gene-
It IS true, said he. Yesterday himself, his wife, and his child
were in an hopeless condition. I saw them in the evening,
and expected not to find them alive this morning. As soon
ai it was light, however, I visited the house again ; but found
ARTHUR MERVYN. 163
it empty. 1 suppose they must have died, and been removed
in the night.
Though anxious to ascertain the destiny of Wallace, I
was unwilling to put direct questions. shuddered, ^vhile I
longed to know the truth.
Why, said I, falteringly, did he not seasonably withdraw
from the city ? Surely he had the means of purchasing an
asylum in the country.
I can scarcely tell you, he answered. Some infetuation
appeared to have seized him. No one was more timorous;
but he seemed to think himself safe, as long as he avoided
contact with infected persons. He was likewise, I believe,
detained by a regard to his interest. His flight would net
have been more injurious to his affairs, than it was to those
of others; but gain was, in his eyes, the supreme good. He
intended ultimately to withdraw ; but his escape to-day, gave
him new courage to encounter the perils of to-morrov/. He
deferred his departure from day to day, till it ceased to be
His family, said I, was numerous. It consisted of more
than his wife and children. Perhaps these retired in sufncient
Yes, said he ; his father left the house at an early psriod.
One or two of the servants likewise forsook him. Oiic
girl, more faithful and heroic than the rest, resisted the
remonstrances of her parents and friends, and resolved to
adhere to him in every fortune. She was anxious that tliC
family should fly from danger, and would willingly have fled
in their company; but while they stayed, it was her immova-
ble resolution not to abandon them.
Alas, poor girl 1 She knew not of what stuff the heart of
Thetford was made. Unhappily, she was the first to become
sick. I question much whether her disease was pestilential.
It was, probably, a slight indisposition; which, in a few days,
would have vanished of itself, or Lave reidily yielded to
i64 ARTHUR MERVYN.
Thetford was transfixed with terror. Instead of summon-
ing a physician, to ascertain the nature of Ijcr symptoms, he
called a negro and his cart from Bush-hill. In vain the neigh-
bours interceded for this unhappy victim. In vain she im-
plored his clemency, and asserted the lightness of her indis-
position. She besought him to allow her to send to her
mother, who resided a few miles in the country, who would
hasten to her succour, and relieve h';m and his faniily from
the danger and trouble of nursing her.
The man was lunatic with apprehension. He rejected her
intreaties, though urged in a manner that would have sub-
duei an heart of iVnt. The girl was innocent, and amiable,
and courageous, but enterta'ned an unconquerable dread of
the hospital. Finding intreaties ineffectual, she exerted all
her strength in opposition to the man who lifted her into the
Finding that her strug^^les availed nothing, she resigned
herself to despair. In going to the hospital, she believed her-
self led to certain d^ath, and to the sulTjrance of every evil
which the known inhumanity of its attendents could inflict.
This state of mind, added to exposure to a noon-day sun, in
an open vehicle ; moving, for a mlh, over a rugged pave-
ment, was sufricient to destroy her. I was not surprised to
hear that she died the next day.
Th's proceeding was suiTiciently iniquitous ; yet it ^vas not
the worst act of this man. The rank and education of the
young woman, might be some apology for negligence ; but
his clerk, a youth who seemed to enjoy his coniidencc, and
to be treated by his family, on the footing of a brotlier or son,
fell sick on the next night, and was treated in the same
These tidings struck me to the heart. A burst of indig-
nation and sorrow filled my eves. I could scarcely stifle my
emotion sufficiently toask, Of whom, sir, do you speak ? Was
the name of the youth — his name — was —
■ ARTHUR MERVYIC. 165
His name was Wallace. I see that you have some interest
in his fate. He was one whom I loved. I would have given
half my fortune to procure him accommodation under some
hospitable roof. His attack was violent ; but still, his reco-
very, if he had been suitably attended, was possible. That
he should survive removal to the hospital, and the treatment
he must receive when there, was not to be hoped.
The conduct of Thetford was as absurd as it was wicV-ed.
To imagine this disease to be contagious was the height of
folly ; to suppose himself secure, merely by not permitting a
sick man to remain under his roof, was no less stupid ; but
Thetford's fears had subverted his understanding. He did
not listen to arguments or supplications. His attention was
incapable of straying from one object. To influence him by
words was equivalent to reasoning with the deaf.
Perhaps the wretch was more to be pitied than hated. The
Victims of his implacable caution, could scarcely have endured
agonies greater than those which his pusillanimity inflicted
on himself. Whatever be the am.ount of his guilt, the retri-
bution has been adequate. He witnessed the death of his
wife and child, and last night was the close of his own exist-
ence. Their sole attendent was a black woman; wliom, by
frequent visits, I endeavoured, with little success, to make
diligent in the performance of her duty.
Such, then, was the catastrophe of Wallace. The end for
-which I journeyed hither was accomplished. His destiny was
ascertained; and all that remained was to fulfil the gloomy
predictions of the lovely, but unhappy Susan. To tell them
all the truth, would be needlesly to exasperate her sorrow.
Time, aided by the tenderness and sympathy of friendship,
may banish her despair, and relieve her from all but the
witcheries of melancholy.
Having disengaged my mind from these reflections, I
explained to my companion in general terms, my reasons for
visiting the city, and my curiosity respecting Thetford. He
inquired into the particulars of my joiu-ney and, the time of
J 66 ARTHUR MERVYN.
my arrival. When informed that I had come in the preced-
ing evening, and had passed the subsequent hours without
sleep or food, he expressed astonls'iment and compassion.
Your undertaking, said he, has certainly been hazardous.
There is poison in every breath which you draw, but this
hazard has been greatly increased by abstaining from food
and sleep. My advice is to hasten back into the country;
but you must first take some repose and some victuals. If you
pass Schuylkill before night-fall, it will be sufficient.
I mentioned the dliliculty of procuring accommodation on
the road. It would be most prudent to set out upon my
journey so as to reach Malvcrton at night. As to food and
sleep they were not to be purchased in this city.
True, answered my companion, \vith quickness, they are
not to be bought, but I will furnish you with as much as
you desire of both for nothing. That is my abode, con-
tinued he, pointing to the house, which he had lately left.
I reside with a widow lady and her daughter, who took my
counsel, and fled in due season. I remain to moralize upon
the scene, with only a faithful black, who makes my bed,
prepares my coffee, and bakes my loaf. If I am sick, all that
a physician can do, I will do for myself, and all that a nurse
can perform, I expect to be performed by Austin*
Come with me, drink some coffee, rest a while on my
matrass, and then fly, with my benedictions on your head.
These words were accompanied by features disembarrassed
and benevolent. My temper is alive to social impulses, and
I accepted his invitation, not so much because I wished to
eat or to sleep, but because I felt reluctance to part so soon
•with a being, who possessed so much fortitude and virtue.
He was surrounded by neatness and plenty. Austin added
dexterity to submlsslvencss. My companion, whose name I
now found to be Medlicote, was prone to converse, and com-
mented on the state of the city like one whose reading had
been extensive and experience large. He combatted an
opinion which I had casually formed, respecting the origin
ARTHUR MERVYN. 167
•f this epidemic, and imputed it, not to infected substances
imported from the east or west, but to a morbid constitution
of the atmosphere, owing- wholly, or In part to filthy streets,
airless habitations and squalid persons.
As I talked with this man, the sense of danger was oblite-
rated, I felt confidence revive in my heart, and energy revisit
my stomach. Though far from my wonted health, my sen
sation grew less comfortless, and I found myself to stand in
no need of repose.
Breakfast being finished, my friend pleaded his daily
engagements as reasons for leaving me. He counselled mc
to strive for some repose, but I was conscious of incapacity
to sleep. I was desirous of escaping, as soon as possible,
from this tainted atmosphere and reflected whether any thing
remained to be done respecting Wallace.
It now occurred to me that this youth must have left some
clothes and papers, and, perhaps, books. The property of
these was now vested in the Hadwins. I might deem my-
self, without presumtlon, their representative or agent.
Might I not take some measures for obtaining possession,
or at least, for the security of these articles?
The house and its furniture was tenantless and unprotected.
It was liable to be ransacked and pillaged by those desperate
ruffians, of whom many were said to be hunting for spoil,
even at a time like this. If these should overlopk this dwell-
ing, Thetford's unknown successor or heir might appropriate
the whole. Numberless accidents might happen to occasion
the destruction or embezzlement of what belonged to Wal-
lace, which might be prevented by the conduct which I
should now pursue.
Immersed in these perplexities, I remained besvildered
and motionless. I was at length roused by some one knock-
ing at the door. Austin obeyed the signal, and instantly
returned, leading in — Mr. Hadwinl
I know not whether this unlooked-for interview excited on
my part, most grief or sui-prize* The motive of his coming
1^3 ARTHUR MERVYN.
was easily divined. His journey was on two accounts super-
fluous. He whom he sought was dead. The duty of ascer-
taining his condition, I had assigned to myself.
I now perceived and deplored the error of which I had been
guilty, in concealing my intended journey from my patron.
Ignorant of the part I had acted, he had rushed into the jaws
of this pest, and endangered a life unspeakably valuable to
his children and friends. I should doubtless have obtained his
grateful consent to the project which I had conceived ; but
my wretched policy had led me into this clandestine path.
Secrecy may seldom be a crime. A virtuous intention may
produce it; but surely it is always erroneous and pernicious.
My friend's astonishment at the sight of me, was not infe-
rior to my own. The causes which led to this unexpected
interview were mutually explained. To soothe the agonies
of his child, he consented to approach the city, and endea-
vour to procure intelligence of Wallace. When he left his
house, he intended to stop in the environs, and hire some emi-
sary, whom an ample reward might tempt to enter the city,
and procure the information which was needed.
No one could be prevailed upon to execute so dangerous a
service. Averse to return without performing his commis-
sion, he concluded to examine for himself. Thetford's
removal to this street was known to him ; but, being ignorant
of my purpose, he had not mentioned this circumstance to
me, durin^- our last conversation.
I was sensible of the danger which Hadwin had incurred
by entering the city. Perhaps, my knowledge or the inex-
pressible importance of his life, to the happiness of his daugh-
ters, made me agravate his danger. I knew that the longer
he lingered in this tainted air, the hazard was increased.
A moment's delay was unnecessary. Neither Wallace nor
myself were capable of being benefitted by his presence.
I mentioned the death of his nephew, as a reason for has-
tening his departure. I urged him in the most vehement
terms to remount his horse and to fly ; I tndeavcured to pre-
ARTHUR MERVYN. 169
elude all Inquiries respecting myself or Wallace ; promising
to follow him immediately, and answer all his questions at
Malverton, My importunities were inforced by his own fears,
and after a moment's hesitation, he rode away.
The emotions produced by this incident, were, in the pre-
sent critical st»te of my frame, eminently hurtful. My
morbid indications suddenly returned. I had reason to ascribe
my condition to my visit to ihe chamber of Maravegli, but
this, and its consequences, to myself, as well as the journey
of Hadwin, were the fruits of my unhappy secrecy.
I had always been accustomed to perform my journeys on
foot. This, on ordinary' occasions, was the preferable method,
but now I ought to have adopted the easiest and swiftest
means. If Hadwin had been acquainted with my purpose
he would not only have approved, but would have allowed
me tlie use of an horse. These reflections were rendered
less pungent by the recollection that my motives were bene-
volent, and that I had endeavoured the benefit of others by
means, which appeared to me most suitable.
Meanwhile, how was I to proceed? What hindered me from
pursuing the foot-steps of Hadwin with all the expedition
which my uneasiness, of brain and stomach would allow? I con-
ceived that to leave any thing undone, witli regard to Wallace,
would be absurd. His property might be put under the care of
my new friend. But how was it to be distinguished from the
property of others? It was, probably, contained in trunks,
which was designated by some label or mark. I was unac-
quainted with his chamber, but, by passing from one to the
other, I might finally discover it. Some token, directing
my foot-steps, might occur, though at present unforeseen.
Actuated by these considerations. I once more entered
Thetford's habitation. I regretted that I had not procured
the counsel or attendence of my new friend, but some engage-
ments, the nature of which he did not explain, occasioned
him to leave me as soon as breakfast was finished.
[ 170 J
I WANDERED over this deserted mansion, in a
considerable degree, at random. Effluvia of a pestilential
nature, assailed me fr®m every corner. In the front room of
the s.icond story, I imagined that I discovered vestiges of
that catastrophe which the past night had produced. The
bed appeared as if some one had recently been dragged from
it. The sheets were tinged with yellow, and with that sub-
stance which is said to be characteristic of this disease, the
gangrenous or black vomit. The floor exhibited similar
There are many, who will regard my conduct as the last
refinement of temerity, or of heroism. Nothing, indeed, more
perplexes me than a review of my own conduct. Not, indeed,
that death is an object always to be dreaded, or that my motive
did not justify my actions; but of all dangers, those allied to
pestilence, by being mysterious and unseen, are the most
formidable. To disarm them of their terrors, requires the
longest ia»niliarity. Nurses and physicians soonest become
intrepid or indilFerent; but the rest of mankind recoil from
the scene with unconquerable loathing.
I was sust'iined, not by confidence of safety, and a belief
of exemption from this malady, or by the influence of habit,
•which inures us to all that is detestable or perilous, but by a
belief ihat this was as eligible an avenue to death as any
other J and that life is a trivial sacrifice in the cause of duty.
ARTHUR MERVYN. 17»
I passed from one roora to the other. A portmanteau,
marked with the initials of Wallace's name, at length,
attracted my notice. From this circumstance I inferred, that
this apartment had been occupied by him. The room wai
neatly arranged, and appeared as if no one had lately used it.
There were trunks and drawers. That which I have men-
tioned, was the only one that bore marks of Wallace's
ownership. This I lifted in my arm.s with a view to remove
it to Medlicote's house.
At that moment, methought I beard a foots-tep slowly and
lingerin^ly ascending the stair. I was disconcerted at this
incident. The foot-step had in it a ghost-like solemnity and
tardiness. This phantom vanished in a moment, and yielded
place to more liumble conjectures. A human being approached,
whose office and commission were inscrutable. That we were
strangers to each other was easily imagined ; but how would
my appearance, in this remote chamber, and loaded with
another's property, be interpreted? Did he enter the house
after me, or was he the tenant of some chamber hitherto
imvisited; whom my entrance had awakened from his trance
and called from his couch ?
In the confusion of my mind, I still held my burthen
uplifted. To have placed it on th.e floor, and encoun-
tered ths visitant, without this equivocal token about me,
was the obvious proceeding. Indeed, time only could dec idc
whether these foot-steps tended to tliis, or to some otlicr
My doubts were quickly dispelled. The door opened, and a
figure glided in. The portmanteau dropped from my arms,
and my heart's-blocd was chilled. Tf an apparition of the
dead were possible, and that possibility I could not deny,
this was such an appaniion. A hue, yellowish and livid;
bones, uncovered with flesh ; eyes, ghastly, hollow, woe-
begone, and fixed in an agony of wonder upon me; and
locks, matted and negl'gent, constituted the image which
I now bciield. My belief of somewhat preternatural in this
T]2 ARTHUR MERVYN.
appearPiice, was conSrmed by recollection of resemblances
between these features and those of one who was dead. In
this shape and visage, shadowy and death-like as they v/ere,
the lineaments of Vv'allace, of him who had misled my rustic
simplicity on my first visit to this city, and whose death
I had conceived to be incontestably ascertained, were forci-
This recognitiQn, which at first alarmed my superstition,
speedily led to more rational inferences. Wallace had been
dragi-ed to the hospital. Nothing was less to be suspected
than that he would return alive from that hideous receptacle,
but this was by no means impossible. The figure that stood
before me, had just risen from the bed of sickness, and from
the brink of tlie grave. The crisis of his malady had passed,
and he was once more entitled to be ranked among the
This event, and the consequences which my imagination
connected with it, filled me with the liveliest joy. I thought
not of his ignorance of the causes of my satisfaction, of the
doubts to which the circumstances of our interview would
g'.ve birth, respecting the integrity of my purpose. ] forgot
the artifices by which I had formerly been betrayed, and the
embarrassments which a meeting with the victim of his arti-
fices would excite in him ; I thought only of the happiness
which his recovery would confer upon his uncle and his
I advanced towards him with an air of congratulation, and
offered him my hand. He shrunk back, and exclaimed in a
feeble voice. Who are you? What business have you here?
I am the friend of Wallace, if he will allow me to be so.
I am a messenger from your uncle and cousins at Maherton.
I came to know the cause of your silence, and to afford you
any assistance in my power.
He continued to regard me with an air of suspicion and
doubt. These I endeavoured to remove by explaining the
motives that led me hither. It was with difficulty that he
ARTHUR MERVYN. 175
seemed to credit my representations. When thoroughly
convinced of the truth of my assertions, he inquired with
great anxiety and tenderness concerning his relations; and
expressed his hope that they were Ignorant of what had
I could not encourage his hopes, I regretted my own
precipitation in adopting the belief of his death. This belief,
had been uttered with confidence, and without stating my
reasons for embracing it, to Mr. Hadwin. These tidings
would be borne to his daughters, and their grief would be
exasj:)erated to a deplorable, and, perhaps, to a fatal degree.
There was but one m-ethod of repairing or eluding this mis-
chief. Intelligence ought to be conveyed to them of his reco-
very. But where was the messenger to be found? No one's
attention could be found disengaged from his own concerns.
Those who were able or willing to leave the city had suffi-
cient motives for departure, in relation to themselves. If
vehicle or horse were procurable for money, ought it not to
be secured for the use of Wallace himiSelf, whose health
required the easiest and £peeditst ccnveyar.ce from this thea-
tre of death?
My companion was powerless in mind as In limibs. He
seemed unable to consult upon the means of escaping from
the inconveniences by which he was surrounded. As soon as
sufficient strength was regained, he had left the hospital. To
repair to 3Ialverton was the measure wliich prudence obvi-
ously dictated; but lie was hopeless of effi;cting it. The city
was close at hand; this was his usual home; and hither
his tottering, and almost involuntary steps had conducted
He listened to my representations and councils, and
acknowledged their propriety. He put himself under my
protection and guidance, and prom'sed to confirm implicitly
to my directions. His strength had sufficed tp bring him thus
far, but was now utterly exhausted. The task of searching ,
for a carriage and horse devolved upon me.
174 ARTHUR MERVYN.
In cfFecting this purpose, I was obliged to rely upon my
own ingenuity and diligence. Wallace, though so long a
resident in the city, knew not to whom I could apply, or by
■whom carriages were let to hire. My own reflections taught
me, that this accommodation was most likely to he furnished
by innkeepers, or that some of tliose might at least inform
me of the best measures to be taken. I resolved to set out
immediately on tiiis search. Meanwhile, Wallace was per-
suaded to take refuge in Medlicote's apartments; and to
make, by the assistance of Austin, the necessary preparation
for his journey.
The morning had now advanced. The rays of a sultry sun
had a sickening and enfeebling influence, beyond any which I
had ever experienced. The drought of unusual duration had
bereft the air and the earth of every particle of moisture.
The element which I breathed appeared to have stagnated
into noxiousness and putrifaction. I was astonished at ob-
serving the enormous diminution of my strength. My brows
were heavy, my intellects benumbed, my sinews enfeebled,
and my sensations universally unquiet.
These prognostics were easily interpreted. What I chiefly
dreaded was, that they would disable me from executing the
task which 1 had undertaken. I summoned up all my resolu-
tion, and cherished a disdain of yielding to this ignoble des-
tiny. I reflected that the source of all energy, and even of
life, is seated in thought; that nothing is arduous to human
efforts; that the external frame will seldom languish, while
actuated by an unconquerable soul.
1 fought against mydreary feelings, which pulled me to the
earth. I quickened my pace, raised my drooping eye-lids,
and hummed a cheerful and favourite air. For all that I
accomplished during this day, I believe myself indebted to the
ttrenuousness and ardour of my resolutions.
I went from one tavern to another. One was deserted; in
another the people were sick, and their attendents refused to
hearken to my inquiries or offers; at a third, their horses
ARTHUR MERVYN. • 175
Tvere engaged. I was determined to prosecute my search as
long as an inn or a livery-stable remained unexamined, and
my strength would permit.
To detail the events of this expedition, the argmnents and
supplications which 1 used to overcome the dictates of ava-
rice and fear, the fluctuation of my hopes and my incessant
disappointments, would be useless. Having exhausted all
my expedients ineflfectually, I was compelled to turn my
weary steps once more to Medlicote's lodgings.
My meditations were deeply engaged by the present cir-
cumstances of my situation. Since the means which were
first suggested, were impracticable, I endeavoured to inves-
tigate others. Wallace's debility made it impossible for him
to perform this journey on foot: but would not his strength
and his resolution suffice to carry him beyond Schuyl-
kill? A carriage or horse, though not to be obtained in
the city, could, without difficulty, be procured, in the coun-
try. Every farmer had beasts for burthen and draught.
One of these might be hired at no immoderate expense, for
half a day.
This project appeared so practicable and so specious, that
1 deeply regretted the time and the effisrts which had already
been so fruitlessly expended. If my project, however, had
been mischievous, to review it with regret, was only to pro-
long and to multiply its mischiefs. I trusted that time and
strength would not be wanting to the execution of this new
On entering Medlicote's house, my looks, which, in spite
of my languors, were sprightly and confident, flattered Wal-
lace with the belief that my exertions had succeeded. When
acquainted with their failure, he sunk as quickly into hope-
lessness. My new expedient was heard by him with no
marks of satisfaction. It was impossible, he said, to move
from this spot by his own strength. All his powers were
exhausted by his walk from Bush-hill.
i7'5 ARTHUR MERVYN.
I endeavoured, by arguments and railler'es, to revive hii
courage. The pure a;r of the countiy would exhillrate him
into new life. He might stop at every fifty yards, and rest
upon the green sod. If overtaken by the night, we would
procure a lodging, by address and importunity ; but if every
door should be shut against us, we should at least, enjoy the
shelter of some barn, and might diet wholsomely upon the
new-laid eggs that we should find there. The worst treat-
ment we could meet with, was better than continuance in
These remonstrances had some influence, and he at length
consented to pat his ability to the test. First, however, .it
was necessary to invigorate liimself by a few hours rest. To
this, though with infinite reluctance, I consented.
This interval allowed him to reflect upon the past, and to
inquire into the fate of Thetford and his family. The intel-
ligence, which Medlicote had enabled me to afford him, w^as
heard with more satisfaction than regret. The ingratitude
and cruelty with which he had been treated, seemed to have
extinguished every sentiment, but hatred and vengeance. I
v/as willing to profit by this interval to know more of Thet-
ford, than I already possessed. I inquired why Wallace,
had so perversely neglected the advice of his uncle and cousin,
and persisted to brave so many dangers when flight was so
I cannot justify my conduct, answered he. It was in
the highest degree, thoughtless and perverse. I was con-
fident and unconcerned as long as our neighbourhood was
free from disease, and as long as I forbore any communica-
tion with the sick; yet I should have withdrawn to Malver-
ton, merely to gr.itify my friends, if Thetford had not used
the most powerful arguments to detain me. He laboured to
extenuate the danger.
Why not stay, sa".d he, as long as I and my family stay ?
Do you think that we would linger here, if the danger were
imminent. Ai soon as it becomes so, we will fly. You
ARTHUR MERVTN. 177
know that we have a country-house prepared for our recep-
tion. When we go, you shall accompany us. Your services
at this time are indispensable to my affairs. If you will not
desert me, your salary next year shall be double ; and that
will enable you to marry your cousin immediately. Noth-
ing is i-nore improbable than that any of us should be sick,
but if this should happen to you, I plight my honour that
you shall be carefully and faithfully attended.
These assurances were solemn and generous. To make
Susan Hadwln my wife, was the scope of all my wishes and
labours. By staying I should hasten this desirable event,
and incur little hazard. By going, I should alienate the
affections of Thetford ; by whom, it is but justice to acknow-
ledge, that I had hitherto been treated with unexampled
generosity and kindness ; and blast all the schemes 1 had
formed for rising into wealth.
My resolution was by no means stedfast. As often as a
letter from Maherton arrived, I felt myself disposed to hasten
away, but this inclination was combated by new arguments
and new intreaties of Thetford.
In this state of suspense, the girl by whom Mrs. Thetford's
infant was nursed, fell sick. She was an excellent creature,
and merited better treatment than she received. Like me,
she resisted the persuasions of her friends, but her motives
for remaining were disinterested and heroic.
No sooner did her indisposition appear, than she was hur-
ried to the hospital. I saw that no reliance could be placed
upon the assurances of Thetford. Every consideration gave
way to his fear of death. After the girl's departure, though
be knew that she was led by his means to execution, — yet
he consoled himself with repeating and believing her asser-
tions, that her disease was not the fever,
I was now greatly alarmed for my own safety. I was
determined to encounter his anger and repel his persuasions J^-
and to depart with the market-man, next morning. That
night, however, I was seized with a violent fever. 1 knew
178 ARTHUR :\IERVYN.
in what manner patients were treated at the hospital, and
removal tliither was to the last degree abhorred.
The morning arrived, and my situation was discovered.
At the first intimation, Thetford rushed out of the house, and
refused to re-enter it till I was removed. I knew not my fate,
till three ruffians made their appearance at my bed-side, and
communicated their commission.
I called on the name of Thetford and his wife. I intreated
a moment's delay, till I had seen these persons, and endea-
voured to procure a respite from my sentence. They were deaf
to my intreatics, and prepared to execute their office by force.
I was delirious with rage and with terror. I heaped the bit-
terest execrations on my murderer ; and by turns, invoked
the compassion, and poured a torrent of reproaches on, the
wretches whom he had selected for his ministers. My strug-
gles and outcries were vain.
I have no perfect recollection of what pafTed till my arri-
val at the hospital. My passions, combined with my disease,
to make me frantic and wild. In a state like mine, the
slightest motion could not be indured without agony. What
then must I have felt, scorched and dazled by the sun, sus-
tained by hard boards, and borne for miles over a rugged
I cannot make you comprehend the anguish of my feelings.
To be disjointed and torn piece-meal by the rack, was a tor-
ment inexpressibly infirrior to this. Nothing excites my
wonder, but that I did not expire before the cart had
moved three pac^^s.
I knew not how, or by whom 1 was moved from this vehi-
cle. Insensibility came at length to my relief. After a
time I opened my eyes, and slowly gained some knowledge
of my situation. I lay upon a mattress, whose condition
proved that ai half-decayed corpse had recently been drag-
ged from it. The room was large, but it was covered witb
bedi like my own. B;itween each, there was scarcely the
ARTHUR MERVYN. 17^
interval of three feet. Each sustained a wretch, whose groan*
and distortions, bespoke the desperateness of his condition.
The atmosphere was loaded by mortal stenches. A vapour,
suffocating and malignant, scarcely allowed me to breathe. No
suitable receptacle was provided for the evacuations produced
by medicine or disease. My nearest neighbour was strug-
gling with death, and my bed, casually ^ extended, was
moist with the detestable matter which had flowed from hii
You w^ill scarcely believe that, in this scene of horrors,
the sound of laughter should be overheard. Vv^'hile the upper
rooms of this building, are filled with the sick and the dying,
the lower apartments are the seen-? of carrousals and mirth.
The wretches who are hired, at enormous wages, to tend
the sick and convey away the dead, neglect their duty a;id
consume the cordials, which are provided for the patients,
in debauchery and riot.
A female visage, bloated with malignity and drunkenness,
occasionally looked inJ Dying eyes were cast upon her,
invoking the boon, perhaps, of a drop of cold water, or her
assistance to change a posture which compelled him to behold
the ghastly writhings or deathful smile of his neighbour.
The visitant had left the banquet for a moment, only to
see who was dead. If she entered the room, blinking eyes
and reeling steps, shewed her to be totally unqualified for
ministering the aid that was needed. Presently, she disap-
peared and others ascended the stair-case, a coffin was depo-
eited at the door, the wretch, v/hose heart still quivered,
•was seized by rude hands, and dragged along the floor into
O! how poor are the conceptions which are formed, by
the fortunate few, of the sufferings to which millions of their
fellow beings are condemned. This misery was more fright-
ful, because it was seen to flow from the depravity of the
attendents. My own eyes only would make me credit the
cxistance of wickedness so enormous. No woiader that to
I So ARTHUR MERVYN.
die in garrets and celhrs and stublesaiii visited and imknovm,
had, by so many, been preferred to bein^- brought hither.
A physician cast an eye upon my state. He gave some
directions to the person who attended him. I did not com-
prehend them, they were never executed by the nurses, and
if the attempt had been made, I should probably have refused
to rceive what was offered. Recovery was equally beyond
my expectations and my wishes. The scene Avhich was
hourly displayed before me, the entrance of the sick, most
of whom perished in a few hours, and their departure to the
grares prepared for them, reminded me of the fate to which
I, also, was reserved.
Three dars passed away, in which every hour was expected
to be the last. That, amidst an atmosphere so contagious
and deadly, amidst causes of distruction hourly accumulating,
I should yet survive, appears to me nothing less than miracur
lous. That of so many conducted to this house, the only
one who passed out of it alive, should be myself^, almost sur-
passes my belief.
Some inexplicable principle rendered harmless those potent
enemies of human life. My fever subsided and vanished.
My strength was revived, and the first use that I made of
my limbs, was to bear me far from the contemplation and
sufferance of those evils.
[ ^8i ]
JTlAVING gratified my curiosity in this respect,
Wallace proceeded to remind me of the circumstances of
our first interview. He had entertained doubts whether I
was the person, whom he had met at Lesher's. I acknow-
ledged myself to be the same, and inquired, in my turn, into
the motives of his conduct on that occasion.
I confess, said he, with some hesitation, I meant only to
sport with your simplicity and ignorance. You must not
imagine, however, that my stratagem was deep-laid and deli-
berately executed. My professions at the tavern were sincere.
I meant not to injure but to serve you. It was not till I
reached the head of the stair-case, that the mischievous con-
trivance occurred. I foresaw nothing, at the moment, but
ludicrous mistakes and embarrassment. The scheme was
executed almost at the very moment it occurred.
After I had returned to the parlour. Thetford charged
me with the deliveiy of a message in a distant quarter of the
city. It was not till I had performed this commission, and
had set ojt on my return, that I fully revolved the conse-
quences likely to flow from my project.
That Thetford and his wife would detect you in their
bed-chamber was unquestionable. Perhaps, weary of my
long delay, you would have fairly undressed and gone to bed.
The married couple would have* made preparat»on to follow
you, and when the curtain was undrawn, would discover a
i82 ARTHUR MERVYN.
robust youth, fast asleep, In their place. These Images,
which had just before excited my laughter, now produced
a very different emotion. I dreaded some fatal catastrophe
from the fiery passions of Thetford. In the first transports
of his fury he might pistol you, or, at least, might command
you to be dragged to prison.
I now heartlily repented of my jest and hastened home that
I might prevent, as far as possible, the evil effects that might
flow from it. The acknowledgment of my own agency in
this affair, would at least, transfer Thetford's indignation to
myself to whom it was equitably due.
The married couple had retired to their chamber, and no
alarm or confusion had follov/ed. This was an inexplicable
circumstance. I waited with impatience till the morning
should furn'sh a solution of the difficulty. The morning
arrived. A strange event, had, indeed, taken place in their
bed-chamber. They found an infant asleep in their bed.
Thetford had been roused twice in the night, once by a
noise in the closet and, afterwards, by a noise at the door.
Some connection between these sounds and the foundling,
was naturally suspected. In the morning the closet was exa-
jTjined, and a coarse pair of shoes was found on the floor.
The chamber door, which Thetford had locked in the even-
ing, was discovered to be open, as likewise a window in the
These appearances were a source of wonder and doubt to
others, but were perfectly intelligible to me. I rejoiced
that my stratagem had no more dangerous consequence, and
admired the ingenuity and perseverance with which you had
extricated yourself from so critical a state.
This narrative was only the verification of my own guesses.
Its facts were quickly supplanted in my thoughts by the dis-
astrous picture he had drawn of the state of the hospital. I
was confounded and shocked by the magnitude of this evil.
The cause of it was obvious. The wretches Avhom money
could purchase, were of course, licentious and unprincipled,
ARTHUR MERVYN. 183
superintended and controlled they might be useful instru-
ments, but that superintendence could not be bought.
What qualities were requisite in the governor of such an
institution? He must have zeal, diligence and perseve-
rance. He must act from lofty and pure motives. He must
be mild and firm, intrepid and compliant. One perfectly-
qualified for the office it is desirable, but not possible, to
find. A dispassionate and honest zeal in the cause of duty
and humanity, may be of eminent utility. Am I not endo^ved
with this zeal? Cannot my feeble efforts obviate some por-
tion of this evil?
No one has hitherto claimed this disgustful and perillous
situation. My powers and discernment are small, but if
they be honestly exerted they cannot fail to be somewhat
The impulse, produced by these reflections, was to hasten
to the City-hall, and make known my wilbes. This impulse
was controlled by recoUect'ons of my own indisposition, and
of the ftate of Wallace. To deliver this youth to his friends
was the strongest obligation. When this was discharged,
I might return to the city, and acquit myself of more com-
Wallace had now enjoyed a few hours rest, and was per-
suaded to begin tlie journey. It was now noon-day, and the
sun darted insupportable rays. Wallace was more sensible
than I of their unwholesome influence. We had not reached
the suburbs, when his strength was wholly exhausted, and
had'I not supported him, he would have sunk upon the pave-
;My limbs were scnrcely less weak, but my resolutions
were much more ilrenuous than lils, I made light of his indis-
position, and endeavoured to persuade him that his vigour
would return in proportion to his distance from the city. The
moment we should reach a shade, a short respite would restore
us to health and cheerfulness.
i84 ARTHUR MERVYN.
Nothing could revive his courage or induce him to go on.
To return or to proceed was equally impracticable. But,
should he be able to return, where should he find a retreat 1
The danger of relapse ayhs imminent: his own chamber
at Thetford's was unoccupied. If he could regain this house,
might I not procure him a physician and perform for him the
part of nurse.
His present situation was critical and mournful. To remain
in the street, exposed to the malignant fervours of the sun,
was not to be endured. To carry him in my arms, exceeded
jny strength. Should I not claim the assistance of the first
passenger that appeared?
At that moment a horse and chaise passed us. The
vehicle proceeded at a quick pace. He that rode in it
might afford us the succour that we needed. He might be
persuaded to deviate from his course and convey the helpless
Wallace to the house we had just left.
This thought instantly impelled me forward. Feeble as 1
was, I even ran with speed. In order to overtake the vehicle.
My purpose was effected with the utmoft difficulty. It for-
tun'ately happened that the carriage contained but one person,
■who stopped at my request. His countenance and guise was
niild ZZ^ encouraging.
Good friend, ! c::iClaimed. here is a youn,^ ?:.2i\ too indis-
posed to walk. 1 want him carried to his lodgings. Will
you, for money or for charity, allow him a place in your
chaise, and set him down where I shall direct? Observing
tokens of hesitation, 1 continued, you need have no fears
to perform this office. He is not sick, but merely feeble.
I will not ask twenty minutes, and you may ask what reward
you think proper.
Still he hesitated to comply. His business, he said, had
not led him into the city. He merely passed along the fkirts of
it, whence he conceived that no danger would arise. He was
desirous of helping the unfortunate, but he could not think
of riscj^ucing his own life, in the cause of a stranger, when
ARTHUR MERVVN. 185
he had a wife and children depending on his existence and
exertions, for bread. It gave him pain to refuse, but he
thought his duty to himself and to others required that he
should not hazard his safety by compliance.
This plea was irrisistable. The mildness of his maanfr
shewed, that he might have been overpowered by persuasion
or tempted by reward. I would not take advantage of his
tractability ; but should have declined his assistance, even if
it had been spontaneously offered. I turned away from him
in Silence, and prepared to return to the spot where I had
left my friend. The man prepared to resume his way.
In this perplexity, the thought occured to me, that, since
this person was going into the country, he might, possibly,
consent to carry Wallace along with him. I confided greatly
in the salutary influence of rural airs. I believed that debility
constituted the whole of his complaint ; that continuance in
the city might occasion his relapse, or, at least, procrastinate
I once more addressed myself to the traveller, and inquired
in what direction, and how far he was going. To my unspeak-
able satisfaction, his answer informed me, that his home lay
beyond Mr. Hadwin's, and that his road carried him directly
past that gentleman's door. He was wiUing to receive Wal-
lace into his chaise, and to leave him at his uncle's.
This joyous and auspicious occurrence surpassed my fondest
hopes. I hurried with the pleasing tidings to Wallace, who
eagerly consented to enter the carriage. I thought not at
the moment of myself, or how far the same means of escap-
ing from my danger might be used. The stranger could not
be anxious on my account; and Wallace's dejection and
weakness may apologize for his not soliciting my company,
or expressing his fears for my safety. lie was no sooner
seated, than the traveller hurried away. I gazed after them,
motionless and mute, till the carriage turning a corner, passed
beyond my sight.
1 86 ARTHUR MERVYN.
I had now leisure to revert to my own condition, and to
ruminate on that series of abrupt and diversified events that
had happened, during the few hours which had been passed
in the city : the end of my coming' was thus speedily and
satisfactorily accomplished. Aly hopes and fears had rapidly
fluctuated; but, respecting this young man, had now subsided
into calm and propitious certainty. Before the decline of
the sun, he would enter his paternal roof, and diffuse ineffa-
ble joy throughout that peaceful and chaste asylum.
This contemplation, though rapturous and soothing speedily
gave way to reflections on the conduct which m.y duty
required, and the safe departure of Wallace, afforded me
liberty to pursue. To offer myself as a superintendent of the
hospital was still my purpose. The languors of my frame
might terminate in sickness, but this event it was-useless to
anticipate. The lofty scite and pure airs of Bush-hill might
tend to dissipate my languors and restore me to health. At
least, wiiile I had power, I was bound to exert it to the
wisest purpofes. I refolved to feek the City-hall immediately,
and, for that end, crossed the intermediate fields which sepa-
rated Sassafras from Chesnut-street.
More urgent considerations had diverted my attention from
the money which I bore about me, and from the image of the
desolate lady to whom it belonged. My intentions, with
regard to her, were the same as ever; but now it occurred to
me, with new force, that my death might preclude an inter-
view between us, and that it was prudent to dispose, in some
useful way, of the money which would otherwise be left to
the sport of chance.
The evils which had befallen this city were obvious and
cnorninu!--. Hunger and negligence had exasperated the malig-
nity and facilitated the progress of the pestilence. Could
this money be more usefully employed than in alleviating
these evils? During my life, I had no power over it, but my
death would justify mc in prescribing the course which it
ARTHUR M£RVYN. 187
How was this course to be pointed out? How might I
place it, so that I should effect ruy intentions without relin-
quishing the possession during roy life.
These thoughts were superseded by a tide of new sensa-
tions. The weight that incommoded my brows an I my sto-
mach was suddenly increased. My brain was usurped by
some benumbing power, and my limbs refused to support
me. My pulsations were quickened, and the prevalence of
fever could no lonjer be doubted.
Till now, 1 had entertained a faint hope, that my indispo-
sition would vanish of itsilf. This hope was at an end. The
grave was before me, and my projects of curiosity or benevo-
lence were to sink into oblivion. I was not bereaved of the
powers of reflection. The consequences of lying in the road,
friendless and unproteCied, were sure. The first passenger
would notice me, and hasten to summon one of those carnages
which are busy night and day, in transporting its victims to
This fate was, beyond all others, abhorrent to my imagina-
tion. To hide me under some roof, where my existence
would be unknown and unsuspected, and where I might perish
unmolested and in quiet, was my present wish. Thetford's
or Medlicote's might afford me such an asylum, if it were
possible to reach it.
I made the most strenuous exertions; but they could not
carry me forward more than an hundred paces. Here I rested
on steps, which, on looking up, I perceived to belong to
This incident was unexpected. It led my reflections into
a new train. To go farther, in the present condition of my
frame, was impossible. I was well acquimted with th's
dweUing. All its avenues were closed. Whether it had
remained unoccupied since my flight from it, I could net
decide. It was evident that, at present, it was without in-
habitants. Possibly it might have continued in the same
condition in which Welbeck had left it. Beds or sofas might
1 88 ARTHUR MERVYN.
be found, on which a sick man might rest, and be fearless
This inference was quickly overturned by the obvious sup-
position, that every avenue "vas bolted and locked. This,
however, might not be the condition of the bath-house, in
which there was nothing that required to be guarded with
unusual precautions. I was suffocated by inward, and scorch-
ed by external heat ; and the relief of bathing and drinking,
The value of this prize, in addition to my desire to avoid
the observation of passengers, made me exert all my rem-
nant of strength. Repeated efforts at length enabled me to
mount the wall ; and placed me, as I imagined, in security.
I swallowed large draughts of water as soon as I could reach
The effect was, for a time, salutary and delicious. My fer-
vours were abated, and my faculties relieved from the weight
which had lately oppressed them. My present condition was
unspeakably more advantageous than the former. I did not
believe that it could be improved, till, cast'ng my eye vaguely-
over the building, I happened to observe the shutters of a
lower window partly opened.
Whether this was occasioned by design or by accident there
was no means of deciding. Perhaps, in the precipitation of the
latest possessor, this window had been overlooked. Perhaps it
had been unclosed by violence, and afforded entrance to a
robber. By what means soever it had happened, it undoubt-
edly afforded ingress to me. I felt no scruple in profiting by
this circunistv.nce. My purposes were not dishonest. 1 should
not injure or purloin any thing. It was laudable to feek a
refuge from the well-meant perfecutionsof thofe who governed
the city. All I sought was the privilege of dying alone.
Havinggotten in at thi window. I could not but remark that
the furniture and its arrangements had undergone no altera-
tion in my abfcnce. I moved softly from one apartment to
ARTHUR MERVVN. j8f
another, till at length I entered, that which had formerly been
The bed was naked of covering. The cabinets and closets
exhibited their fastenings broken. I'heir contents were gone.
Whether these appearances had been produced by midnight
robbers or by the ministers of law, and the rage of the credi-
tors of Welbeck, was a topic of fruitless conjecture.
My design was now effected. This chamber should be the
scene of my disease and my refuge from the charitable cru-
elty of my neighbours. My new sensations, conjured up thf
hope that my indisposition might prove a temporary evil.
Instead of pestilential or malignant fever it might be an harm-
less intermittent. Time would ascertain its true nature,
meanwhile I would turn the carpet into a coverlet, supplying
my pitcher with water, and administered without sparing, and
without fear, that remedy which was placed within my reach.
[ 19° 1
1 LAID myself on the bed and wrapped my limbs
in the folds of the caq-»et. My thoughts were restless and
perturbed. I was once more busy in reflecting on the con-
duct which I ought to pursue, with regard to the bank-bills,
I weighed with scrupulous attention, every circumstance that
might influence my decision. I couU not conceive any more
beneficial application of this property, than to the service of
the indigent, at this season of multiplied distress, but I con-
sidered that if ray death were unknown, the house would not
be opened or examined till the pestilence had ceased, and the
benefits of this application would thus be partly or wholly
This season of disease, however, -would give place to a
season of scarcity. The number and wants of the poor, during
the ensuing winter, would be deplorably iiggravated. What
multltudts might be rescued from famine and nakedness by
the judicious application of this sum?
But how should I secure this application? To inclose the
bills in a letter, directed to some eminent citizen or public
officer, was the obvious proceeding. Both of these condi-
tions were fulfilled in the person of the present chief magis-
trate. To him, therefore, the packet was to be sent.
Paper and the implements of writing were necessary for
this end. Would they be found, I asked, in the upper room ?
If that apartment, like the rest which I had seen, and its
ARTHUR MERVYN. 191
furniture had remained uniouched, my task would be prac-
ticable, but if the means of writing were not to be immedi-
ately procured, my purpose, momentous and dear as it was,
must be relinquished.
The truth, in this respect, was easily, and ought imme-
diately to be ascertained. I rose from the bed which I had
lately taken, and proceeded to the study. The entries and
staircases were illuminated by a pretty strong twilight. The
rooms, in consequence of every ray being excluded by the
closed shutters, were nearly as dark as if it had been mid-
night. The rooms into which I had already passed, were
locked, but its key was in each lock. I flattered myself
that the entrance into the study would be found in the same
condition. The door was shut but no key was to be seen.
My hopes were considerably damped by this appearance, but
I conceived it to be still possible to enter, since, by chance
or by design, the door might be unlocked.
My fingers touched the lock, when a sound was heard as if
a bolt, appending to the door on the inside, had been drawn.
I was startled by this incident. It betokened that the room
was already occupied by some otlier, who desired to exclude
a vs. tor. The unbarred shutter below was remembered, and
associated itself with this circumstance. That this house
should be entered by the same avenue, at the same time, and
this room should be sought, by two persons was a mysterious
I began to question whether I had heard distinctly. Num-
berless inexplicable noises are apt to assail the ear in an empty
dwelling. The very echoes of our steps are unwonted and
new. This perhaps was some such sound. Resuming cou-
rage, I once more applied to the lock. The door, in spite
of my repeated efforts, would not open.
My design was too momentous to be readily relinquished.
My curiosity and my fears likewise were awakened. The
marks of violence, which I had fcen on the closets and cabi-
ipi ARTHUR MERVYN.
nets below, seemed to Indicate the presence of plunderers.
Here was one who laboured for seclusion and concealment.
The pillage was not made upon my property. My weak-
ness would disable me from encountering or mastering a man
of violence. To solicit admission into this room would be
useless. To attempt to force my way would be absurd. These
reflections prompted me to withdraw from the door, but the
uncertainty of the conclusions I had drawn, and the impor-
tance of gaining access to this apartment, combined to check
Perplexed as to the means I should employ, I once more
tried the lock. This attempt was fruitless as the former.
Though hopeless of any information to be gained by that
means, 1 put my eye to the key-hole. I discovered a light
different from what was usually met with at this hour. It
was not the twilight wliich the sun, imperfectly excluded,
produces, but gleams, as from a lamp; yet gleams were fainter
and obscurer than a lamp generally imparts.
Was this a confirmation of my first conjecture ? Lamp-light
at noon-day, in a mansion thus deserted, and in a room which
had been the scene of memorable and disastrous events, was
ominous. Hitherto no direct proof had been given of the
presence of an huinan being. How to ascertain his presence,
or whether it were eligible by any means, to ascertain it,
were points on which I had not deliberated.
I had no power to deliberate. My curiosity, impelled me
to call—." Is there any one within? Speak."
These words were scarcely uttered, when some one ex-
claimed, in a voice, vehement but half-smothered — Good
A deep pause succeeded. I waited for an answer: for
somewhat to which this emphatic invocation might be a pre-
lude. Whether the tones were expressive of surprise or
pain, or grief, was, for a moment dubious. Perhaps the
motives which led me to this house, suggested the suspicion,
■which, presently succeeded to my doubts, that the person
ARTHUR MKRYY'S. 193
Avithin was clis'ibled by sickncs?. The circuirstances of my
own condition took away the Impro"^ ability from this belief.
Why might not another be induced like me to hide himself
in this desolate retreat ? might not a servant, left to take
car>? of tiie house, a measure usually adoptv-id by the opulent
at this time, be seized by the reigning malady ? Incapa-
citated for exert'on, or fearing to be dragged to the hospital,
he has fliut himsslf in this apartment. The robber, it may-
be, who came to pillage, was overtaken and detained by dis-
ease. In either case, detection or intrusion would be hate-
ful, and Yiouid be assiduously eluded.
These thoughts had no tendency to vveaken or divert my
efforts to obtain access to this room. The person was a
brother in calamity, whom it was my duty to succour and
cherish to the utmost of my power. Once more I spoke :—
Who is within ? I beseech you answer me. ^Vhatever
you be, I desire to do you good and not injury. Open the
door and let me know your condition. I will try to be of
use to you.
I was answered by a deep groan, and by a sob counter-
acted and devoured as it were by a mighty effort. This
token of distress th.riiled to m.y heart. My terrors wholly
disappeared, and gave place to unlimited compassion. I
again intreated to be admitted, promising all the succour or
consolation which my situation allowed me to afford.
Answers were made in tones of anger and Impatience,
blended with those of grief — I want no succour — vex me
not with your entreaties ^nd offers. Fly from this spot :
Linger not a moment lest you participate my destiny and
rush upon your death.
These, I considered merely as the effusions of delirium,
or the dictates of despair. Tlve style and articulation de-
noted the speaker to be superior to the class of servants.
Hence my anxiety to see and to aid lilm was increased.
My remonstrances were sternly and pertinaciously repelled.
For a time, incoherent and impassioned e:^iamations flowed
194 ARTHUR MERVYN.
from him. At length, I was only permitted to hear, strong
aspirations and sobs, more eloquent and more indicative of
grief than any language.
This deportment filled me with no less wonder than com-
miseration. By what views this person was led hither, by
what motives induced to deny himself to my intreaties, was
■wholly incomprehensible. Again, though hopeless of suc-
cess, I repeated my request to be admitted.
My perseverance seemed now to have exhausted all his
patience, and he exclaimed, in a voice of thunder — Arthur
Merv^Mi ! Begone. Linger but a moment and my rage,
tyger-like, will rush upon you and rend you limb from
This address petrified me. The voice that uttered this
sanguinary menace, was strange to my ears. It suggested no
suspicion of ever having heard it before. Yet my accents
had betrayed me to him. He was familiar with my name.
Notwithstanding the improbability of my entrance into this
dwelling, I was clearly recognized and unhesitatingly named 1
My curiosity and compassion were in no wise diminished,
but I found myself compelled to give up my purpose — I with-
drew reluctantly from the door, and once more threw myself
upon my bed. Nothing was more necessary in the present
condition of my frame, than fleep; and sleep liad, perhaps,
been possible, if tlie scene around me had been less preg
nant with causes of wonder and panic.
Once more I tasked my memory in order to discover, in
the persons with whom I had hitherto conversed, some resem-
blance in voice or tones, to him whom I had just heard. This
process was effectual. Gradually my imagination called up
an image, which now, that it was clearly seen, I was asto-
nished had not instantly occurred. Three years ago, a man,
by name Colvill, came on foot, and with a kn'^psack on his
back, into the district where my father resided. lie had
learning and genius, and reridlly obtained tiie station fof
ARTHUR MERVYN. 195
which only he deemed himself quali&ed; that of a school-
His demeanour was gentle and modest; his habits, as to
sleep, food, and exercise, abstemious and regular. Meditation
in the forest, or reading* in his closet, seemed to constitute,
together with attention to his scliolars, his s-^le amusement
and employment. He estranged iiimself from company,
not because society afforded no pleasure, but because studi-
ous seclusion afforded him chief satisfaction.
No one was m.ore idolized by his unsuspecting neighbours.
H's scholars rcivered him as a father, and made under his
tuition a remarkable proficiency. His character seemed open
to boundless inspection, and his conduct was pronounced by
all to be faultless.
At the end of a year the scene was changed. A daugh-
ter of one of his patrons, young, artless and beautiful,
appeared to have fallen a prey to the arts of some detectable
seducer. The betrayer was gradually detected, and succes-
sive discoveries shewed that the same artifices had been
practised, with the same success upon many others. Coi-
vill was the arch-villain. He retired from the storm of
vengeance that was gathering over him, and had not been
heard of since that period.
I saw him rarely, and for a s'-.ort time, and I was a mere
boy. Hence, the fai'mre to recollect his voice, and to per-
ceive that the voice of him, immured in the room above,
was the same with that of Colvill. Thouj^h I had (lipht
reasons for recognizing his features, or accents, I had abun-
dant cause t© think of him with detestation, and pursue him
with implacable revenge, for the victim of his acts, she
whose ruin was first detected, was — niy sister,
This unhappy girl, escaped from the upbraidings of her
parents, from the contumelies of the world, from the goad-
ings of remorse, and the anguish tiowing from the perfidy
and desertion of Colvill, in a voluntaiy death. She was
innocent and lovdv. Previous to this evil, my soul was
196 ARTHUR MF.RVYN.
linked with hcr's by a thousand resemblances and syn^^p^i-
thles, as well as by perpetual intercourse tVcii-i infancy, and
by tlie fraternal relation. She was my sister, uvf preceptress
and friend, but she died — her end v;:is violent, untimely,
and criminal 1 — -1 cannot think of her witiioiii hearl-burs'ing'
grief, of her destroyer, without h rancour which i i^now to
be wronj, but which I cannot subdue.
When the ima^e of ColviU rushed, upon this occasion, on
111) thought, I uiuiost started on my fcit. To iuect him,
after so long a separation, here, and in thcs." c.rcu.ristances,
was so U!ilooked-ior and abrupt an event, and revivcvi a tribe
of such hateful impulfcs and a^^ouizin^- recollections, tli..t a
total revolution sie.nedto have been ellected in my fr.-i iie. li.s
recognition of n.y ptr-^on, h.is aversion to be si.en, his ejacu-
lation of terror and surprii-e on first hearing n;y voice, all
contributed 10 strengthen my belief.
Plow was I to act f My feeble frame could but illy second
my vengeful purposes ; but vengeance, though it sometimes
occupied my thoughts, was hindered by my reason, from
leading me in any instance, to outrage or even to upbraiding.
All my wishes with regard to this man, were limited to
expelling his image from my memory, and to fliunning a
meeting with him. Tliat he had not opened the door at my
bidding, was now a topic of joy. To look upon somiC bot-
tomless pit, into which 1 was about to be cast headlong, and
alive, was less to be abhorred than to look upon the face cf
Colvill. Had I known that he had taken refuge in this
house, no power should have compelled me to enier it. To
be immersed in the infection of the hospital, and to be
liurried, yet breathing and observant, to my grave, was a
more supportable fate.
I dwell, with self-condemnation and shame, upon this part
of my story. To feel extraordinary indignation at vice,
merely because we have pai-taken in an extraordinary degree,
cf its mischiefs, is unjustifiable. To regard the wicked with
r.o emotion but pity, to be active in reclaiming them, in
ARTHUR JIERVYN. 197
controlling their malevolence, and preventing or repairing
tlie ills which they produce, is the only province of duty.
This lesson, as well as a thousand others, 1 have yet to
learn ; but I despair of living long enough for that or any
My emotions with regard to Colvill, were erroneous, but
omnipotent. I started from my bed, and prepared to rufh
into the street. I was careless of the lot that should befal
me, since no fate could be worse than that of abiding under
the same roof with a wretch spotted with so many crimes.
I had not set my feet upon the floor before my precipita-
tion was checked by a sound from above. The door of the
study was cautiously and slowly opened. This incident
admitted only of one construction, supposing all obstructions
removed. Colvill was creeping from his hiding place, and
would probably fly with speed from the house. My belief
of his sickness was now^ confuted. An illicit design was
congenial with his character and congruous with those appear-
ances already observed.
I had no power or wish to obstruct his flight. I thought
of it with transport and once more threw myself upon the
bed, awd wrapped my averted face in the carpet. He would
probably pass this door, unobservant of me, and my muffled,
face would save me from the agonies connected with the sight
The foot-steps above were distinguifhable, though it was
manifest that they moved with lightsomeness and circum-
spection. They reached the stair and descended. The
room in which I lay, was, like the rest, obscured by the
closed shutters. This obscurity now gave way to a light,
resembling that glimmering and pale reflection which I had
noticed in the study. My eyes, though averted from the
door, were disengaged from the folds which covered the rest
of my head, and observed these tokens of Colvill's approach,
flitting on the wall.
iy8 ARTHUR MERVYN.
jNIy fcveridi perturbations increased as he drew nearer.
He reached the door, and stopped. The light rested for a
moment. Presently he entered the apartment. My emo-
tions suddenly rose to an heigliC that would not be controlled.
I imagined that he anoioached the bed, and was gazing upon
me. At the same moment, by an involuntary impulse, I
threw off my covering, and, turning my face, fixed my eyes
upon my visitant.
It was as 1 suspected. The figure, lifting in his right
hand a candle, and gazing at the bed, with lineaments and
attitude, bespeaking fearful expectation and tormenting
doubts, wa^ now beheld. One glance communicated to my
senses all the parts of this terrific vision. A sinking at my
heart, as if it had been penetrated by a dagger, seized me.
Thi3 was not enough, 1 uttered a shriek, too rueful and loud
not to have startled the attention of the passengers, if any
had, at that moment been paffing the street.
Heaven seemed to have decreed that this period fliould
be filled with trials of my equanimity and fortitude. The
test of my courage v/as once more employed to cover me
with humiliation and remorse. This second time, my fancy
conjured up a spectre, and I shuddered as if the grave were
forsaken and the unquiet dead haunted my pillow.
The visage and the shape had indeed preternatural atti-
tudes, but they belonged, not to Colvill, but to — Wklbeck.
[ 199 J
ixE whom I had accompanied to the midst of the
river; whom I had imagined that'^i" saw s'nk to rise no
more, was now before me. Though incapable of precluding
the groundless belief of preternatural visitations, I was able
to banish the phantom almost at the same instant at which
it appeared. ^'V eibeck had escaped from the stream alive ;
or had, by some inconceivable means, been restored to life.
The first was the most plausible conclusion. It instantly-
engendered a suspicion, that his plunging into tlie wr.terwas
an artifice, intended to establish a belief of his death. His
own tale had shewn him to be versed in frauds, and flexible
to evil. But was he not associated with Colvlll ; and what,
but a compact in Iniquity, could bind together such men?
While thus musing, Welbeck's countenance and gesture
displayed emotions too vehement for speech. The glances
that he fixed upon me were unsiedfast and wild. He walked
along the floor, stopping at each moment, and darting looks
of eagerness upon me. A conflict of passions kept him m.ute.
At length, advancing to the bed, on the side of which I was
now sitting, he acTdressed me.
What is this ? Are you here ? In defiance of pestilence, are
you actuated by some demon to haunt me, like the ghost of
my offences, and cover me with shame? What have I to do
with that^untless. yet guileless front? With that foolishly,
confiding, and obsequious, yet erect and unconquerable spirit?
200 ARTHUR MERVYX.
Is there no means of evading your pursuit ? Must I dip niy
hands, a second time, in blood; and dig for you a grave by
the side of Watson ?
These words were listened to with calmness. I suspected
and pitied the man, but I did not fear him. His words and
his looks were indicative less of cruelty than madness. I
looked at him with an air compassionate and wistful. I spoke
with mildness and composure.
Mr. Welbeck, you are unfortunate and criminal. Would
to God 1 could restore you to happiness and virtue ; but
though my desire be strong, I have no power to change your
habits or rescue you from misery.
I believed you to be dead. I rejoice to find myself mis-
taken. While you live, there is room to hope that your
errors will be cured; and the turmoils, and inquietudes that
have hitherto beset your guilty progress, will vanish by your
reverting into better paths.
From me you have nothing to fear. If your welfare will
be promoted by my silence on the subject of your history,
my silence shall be inviolate. I deem not lightly of my
promises. They are given and shall not be recalled.
This meeting was casual. Since I believed you to be dead,
it could not be otherwise. You err, if you suppose that any
injury will accrue to you from my life ; but you need not
discard tliat error. Since my death is coming, I am not averse
to your adopting the belief that the event is fortunate to you.
Death is the inevitable and universal lot. When or how
it comes, is of little moment. To stand, when so many
tliousands are falling around mc, is not to be expeiSled. I
have acted an humble and obscure part in the world, and
my career has been short; but I murmur not at the decree
tliut m.ikes it so.
The pestilence is now upon me. The chances of recovery
are too slender to deserve my confidence. I came hither to
die unmolested, and at peace. All I ask of you is to consult
your own safety by immediate flight; and not f^lisappoint
ARTHUR MKRVVN. cot
my hopes of concealment, by disclosing- my ccndiiicn to the
agents of xhj: hospital.
Welbeck listened wiiii the deepest attention. The wikl-
ness of his air disappeared, and gu\e pbxe to perplexity and
You are sick, said he, in a tremulous tone, in which terror
was mingled v.'itli affection- You know this, and expect not
to recover. No mother, nor sister, nor friend will be near to
administer food, or medicine, or comfort; yet you can talk
calmly; can be th.us consideiatr of others — of me; whose
guilt has been so deep, and who has mer'.ted so little at
Wretched coward 1 Thus m'serable as I am, and expect
to be, I cling- to life. To comply with your heroic counsel,
and to tiy; to leave you thus desolate and helpless, is the
strongest impulse. Fain would I resist it but cannot.
To desert you would be flagitious an A dastardly beyond all
former acts, yet to stay with you is to contract the disease
and to perish after you.
Life, burthened as it is, with guilt and ignominy, is still
dear — yet you exhort me to go ; you dispense with my as-
sistance. Indeed, I could be of no use, I should injure
myself and pro£t you nothing. I cannot go into the city
and procure a physician or attendant. 1 must never more
appear in the streets of this city. L must leave you then — .
He hurried to the door. Again, he hesitated. I renewed
my intreaties that he would leave me ; and encouraged Ids
belief that his presence might endanger himocif without con-
ferring the slightest benefit upon me.
Whither should I tly ? The wnde world contains no
asylum for lYiC, I lived but on one condition. I came
hither to find what would save me from ruin — from death.
I find it not. It has vanished. Some audacious and for-
tunate hand has snatched it from its place, and now my
ruin is compleit:. My last hope is extinct.
202 ARTHUR ?.IER\^^N.
Yes. Mervyn ! I will stay with you. I will hold your
head. I will put water to your lips. I will watch night
and day by your side. When you die, I will carry you by
night to the neighbouring field: will bury you, and water your
grave with those tears that are due to your incomparable
worth and untimely destiny. Then I will lay myself in
your bed and wait for the same oblivion.
Welbeck seenied now no longer to be fluctuating between
opposite purposes. His ten'.pestuous features subsided into
calm. He put the candle, still liglited on the table, and paced
the floor with less disorder than at his first entrance.
His resolution was seen to be the dictate of despair. I
hoped that it would not prove invincible to my remonstrances.
I was conscious that his attendance might preclude, in some
degree, my own exertions, and alleviate the pangs of death;
but these consolations might be purchased too dear. To
receive them at the hazard of his life would be to make them
But if he sliould remain, what conduct would his compa-
nion pursue? Why did he continue in the study when Wel-
beck had departed? By what motives were those men led
hither? I addressed myself to Welbeck.
Your resolution to remain is hasty and rash. By persist-
ing in it, you will add to the miseries of my condition; you
will take away the only hope that I cherished. But, however
you may act, Colv II or I must be banished from this roof.
Wiiat is the lea^-^ue between ycni ? lireuk it, 1 conjure you;
behjre his fiauJs have Involved yoc in inextricabledtstruction.
Welbeck looked at me with some expression of doubt.
I mean, continued I, the man whose voice 1 lieard above.
He is a villain and betr.iyer. I have maniibld proofs of his
guilt. Why does he linger behind you? However you may
decide, it is fitting that he should vanish.
Alas! said Welbeck, I have no companion; none to par-
take with me in good or evil. 1 came hither alone.
ARTHUR ^fERVYN. 203
How ? exclaimed I. Whom did I hear in the room above ?
Some one answered my interrogations and intreaties, whom
I too certainly recognized. Why does he remain?
You heard no one but myself. The design that brought
me hither, was to be accomplished without a witness. I desired
to escape detection, and repelled your solicitations for admis-
sion in a counterfeited voice.
That voice belonged to one from whom I had lately
parted. What his merits or demerits are, I know not. He
found me wandering in the forests of New-Jersey. He took
me to his home. When seized by a lingering malady, he
nursed me v;ith fi.lelity, and tenderness. When somewhat
recovered, I speeded hither; but^ur ignorance of each others
character and views was mutual and profound.
I deemed it useful to assume a voice different from my
own. This was the last which I had heard, and this arbi-
trary and casual circumstance decided my choice.
This imitation was too perfect, and had influenced my fears
too strongly, to be easily credited. I suspected Welbeck of
some new artifice to baffle my conclusions and mislead my
judgment. This suspicion, however, yielded to his earnest and
repeated declarations. If Colvill were not here, where had
he made his abode? How came friendship and intercourse
between Welbeck and him? By what miracle escaped the
former from the river, into which I had imagined him for- ^
I will answer you, said he, with candour. You know
already too much for me to have any interest in concealing
any part of my life. You have discovered my existence,
and the causes that rescued me from destruction maybe told
without detriment to my person or fame.
When I leaped into the river, I 'intended to perish. I
harboured no previous doubts of my ability to execute my
fatal purpose. In this respect I was deceived. Suffocation
would not come at my bidding. My muscles and limbs
rebelled against my will. There was a mechanical repug-
104 ARTHUR IMERVYN.
nance to the lois of life which I could not vanquish. My
struggles might thrust nie below the surface, but my lips
were spontaneously shut and excluded the torrent from my
lungs. When my breath was exhausted, the efforts that
kept me at the bottom were involuntarily remitted, and I
rose to the surface.
I cursed my own pusillanimity. Thrice I plung'ed to the
bottom and as often rose again. My aversion to life swiftly
diminished, and at length, I consented to make use of niy
skill in swimming, which has seldom been exceeded, to pro-
long my existence. I landed in a few minutes on the Jersey
This scheme being frustr.ited, I sunk into dreariness and
Inactivity. 1 felt as if no dependence could be pb.ced upon
my courage, as if any effort 1 should make for self-destruc-
tion would be fruitless ; yet existence was as void as ever of
enjoyment and embellishment. My means of living were
annihilated. I saw no path before me. To shun the pre-
sence of mankind was my sovereign wish. Since I could
not die, by my own hands. T must be content to crawl upon
tlie surface, till a superior fate should permit me to perish.
I wandered into the centre of the wood. I stretched my-
self on the mossy verge of a brook, and gazed at the stars
till they dis;ippeared. The next day ^vas spent with little
variation. The cravings of hunger were felt, and the sen-
sation was a joyous one, since it afforded me the practicable
means of death. To refr.iin from food was easy, since some
efforts woidd be needful to procure it, and these efforts should
not be made. Thus was the sweet oblivion for which I so
earnestly panted, placed within my-^each.
Three days of abstinence, and reverie, and solitude suc-
ceeded. On the ev( ning of the fourth, I was seated on a
rock, with my face buried in my hands. Some one laid his
hand upon my slioukler. I started and looked up. I beheld
a face, beaming with compassion and benignity. He endea-
ARTHUR MERVVN. 205
voured to extort from me the cause of my solitude and sorrow.
I disregarded his intreaties, and was obstinately silent.
Finding me invincible in this respect, he invited me to
his college, which was hard by. I repelled him at first, with
impatience and anger, but he was not to be discouraged or
intimidated. To elude his persuasions I was obliged to com-
ply. My strength was gone and the vital fabric was crum-
bling into jDieces. A fever raged in my veins, and I was
consoled by reflecting that my life was at once assailed by
famine and disease.
Meanwhile, my gloomy meditations experienced no respite.
I incessantly ruminated on the events of my past life. The
long series of my crimes arose daily and afresh to my imagin-
ation. Tiie image of Lodi was recalled, his expiring looks
and tiie directions which were mutually given respecting his
sisters and his property.
As I perpetually revolved these incidents, they assumed
new forms, and vvere linked with new associations. The
volume written by his father, and transferred to me by tokens,
which were now remembered to be more emphatic than the
nature of the composition seem.ed to justify, was likewise
remembered. It came attended by recollections respecting
a volume which I filled, when a youth, with extracts from
the Roman and Greek poets. Besides this literary purpose
I likewise used to preserve the bank-bills, with the keeping
or carriage of which I chanced to be intrusted. This image
led me back to the leather-case containing Lodi's property,
which was put into my hands at the same tinie with the
These images now gave birth to a third conception, whicti
darted on my benighted understanding like an electrical flash.
Was it possible that part of Lodi's property might be inclosed
within the leaves of this volume ? In hastily turning it over.
I recoUeced to have noticed leaves wliose edges by accident
or design adhered to each other. Lodi, in speaking of the
sale of his father's West-Indian property, mentioned that
2c6 ARTHUR MERVYN.
the sum obtained for it, was forty thousand dollars. Half
only of this sum had been discovered by me. How had
the remainder been appropriated? Surely this volume con-
The influence of this thought was like the infusion of a
new soul into my frame. From torpid and desperate, from
inflexible averson to medicine and food. I was changed in
a moment into vivacity and hope, into ravenous avidity for
whatever could contribute to my restoration to health.
I was not without pungent regrets and racking fears. That
this volume would be ravished away by creditors or plun-
derers, was possible. Every hour might be that which
decided my fate. The first impulse was to seek my dwelling
and search for this precious deposit.
Meanwhile, my perturbations and impatience only exas-
perated my disease. While chained to my bed, the rumour
of pestilence was spread abroad. This event, however, gene-
rally calamitous, was propitious to me, and was hailed with
satisfaction. It multiplied the chances that my house and
its furniture would be unmolested.
My friend was assiduous and indefatigable in his kindness.
My deportment, before and subsequent to the revival of my
hopes, was incomprehensible, and argued nothing less than
insanity. My thoughts were carefully concealed from him,
and all that he witnessed was contradictory and unintelligible.
At length, my strength was sufficiently restored. I re-
sisted all my protector's Importunities, to postpone my depar-
ture till the perfect confirmation of my health. I designed
to enter the city at midniglit, that prying eyes might be
eluded; to bear with me a candle and the means of lighting
it, to explore my way to my ancient study, and to ascertain
my *Mture claim to existence and felicity.
1 crossed the river this morning. My impatience would
not suffer me to wait till evening. Considering the desola-
tion of the ci'.y. I thought I might venture to approach
thus near, without hazard of detection. The house, at all
ARTHUR .AIERVYN. 207
its avenues was closed. I stole into the back-court. A
window-shutter proved to be unfastened. I entered, and
discovered closets and cabinets, unfastened and emptied of
all their contents. At this spectacle my heart sunk. My
books, doubtless, had shared the common destiny. My
blood throbbed with painful vehemence as I approached the
study and opened the door.
My hopes, that languished for a moment, were revived
by the sight of my shelves, furnished as formerly. I had
lighted my candle below, for I desired not to awaken obser-
vation and suspicion, by unclosing the windows. My eye
eagerly sought the spot where I remembered to have left
the volume. Its place was empty. The object of all my
hopes had eluded my grasp, and disappeared forever.
To paint my confusion, to repeat my execrations on the
infatuation, which had rendered, during so long a time, that
it was in my possession, this treasure useless to me, and my
curses of the fatal interference which had snatched away this
prize, would be only aggravations of my disappointment and
my sorrow. You found me in this state, and know what
[ 2cS ]
1 HIS narrative tlirew new light on the charac-
ter of Welbeck. If accident had given him possession of
this treasure, it was easy to predict on what schemes of luxu-
ry and selfishness it would have been expended. The same
dependence ou the world's erroneous estimation, the same
devotion to imposture, and thoughtlessness of futurity, would
have constituted the picture of his future life, as had distin-
gulslied the past.
I'his money was another's. To retain it for his own use
was criminal. Of this crime he appeared to be as insensible
as ever. His own gratification was the supreme law of his
actions. To be subjected to the necessity of honest labour,
was the heaviest of all evils, and one from which he was
w illing to escape by the commission of suicide.
The volume which he sought was mine. It was my duty
to restore it to the rightful owner, or, if the legal claimant
could not be found, to employ it in the promotion of virtue
and happinefs. To give it to Welbeck was to consecrate it
to the purpose of selfishness and misery. My right, legally
considered, was as valid as his.
But if I intended not to resign it to him, was it proper to
disclose the truth, and explain by whom the volume was pur-
loined from the shelf ? 'I'he first impulse was to hide this
truth : but my understanding had been taught, by recent
occurrences, to cjuestlon the justice, and deny the usefulness
ARTHUPv MERVYN. 209
of secrecy in an/ case. My principles were true ; my motives
were pure : Why shoull I scruple to avow my principles,
and vindicate my actions ?
Welbeck had ceased to be dreaded or revered. That awe
which was once created by his superiority of age, refinement
of manners and dignity of garb, had vanished. I was a boy
in years, an indigent and uneducated rustic, but I was able
to discern the illusions of power and riches, and abjured
every claim to esteem that was not founded on integrity.
There was no tribunal before which I should faulter in assert-
ing- the truth, anJ no species of martyrdom which I would
not cheerfully embrace in Its cause.
After some pause, I said: cannot you conjecture in what
way this volume has disappeared ?
No: he answered with a sigh. Why, of all his volumes,
this only should have vanished, was an inexplicable enigma.
Perhaps, said I, it is less important to know how it was
removed, than by whom it is now possessed.
Unquestionably: and yet, unless that knowledge enables
me to regain the possession it will be useless.
Useless then it will be, for the present possessor will never
return it to you.
Indeed, replied he, in a tone of dejection, your conjecture
is moft probable. Such a prize is of too much value to be
What I have said, flows not from conjecture, but from
knowledge. I know that it will never be restored to you.
At these words, W^elbeck looked at me with anxiety and
doubt — You knovj that it will not! Have you any knowledge
of the book! Can you tell me what has b^fcome of it?
Yes, after our separation on the river, I returned to this
house. I found this volume and secured it, you rightly sus-
pected its contents. The money was there.
Welbeck started as if he had trodden on a mine of gold.
His first emotion was rapturous, but was immediately chas-
-10 ARTHUR MERVYN.
tised by some degree of doubt. What has become of It? Havci
you got it ? Is it entire ? Have you it with you ?
It is unimpaired. 1 have got it, and shall hold it as a sacred
trust for the rightful proprietor.
The tone with which this declaration was accompanied,
shook the new born confidence of Welbeck. The r\g-htful
Proprietor! true, but I am he. To me onlr it belongs and
to me, you are, doubtless, willing to restore it.
Mr Welbeck ! It is not my desire to give you perplexity
or angu'sh ; to sport with your passions. On the supposition
of your death, I deemed it no infraction of justice to take
this manuscript. Accident unfolded its contents. I could
not hesitate to chuse my path. The natural and legal suc-
cessor of Vincentio Lodi is his sister. To her, therefore,
this property belongs, and to her only will I give it.
Presumptuous boy! And this is your sage decision. I tell
you that I am the owner, and to me you lliull render it.
Who is this girl! childish and ignorant! Unable to consult
and to act for herself on the most trivial occasion. Am I
not, by the appointment of her dying brother, h,er protector
and guardian ? Her age produces a legal incapacity of pro-
perty. Do you imagine that so obvious an expedient, as that
of procuring my legal appointment as her guardian, was
overlooked by me? If it were neglected, still my title to pro-
vide her subsistance and enjoyment is unquestionable.
Did I not rescue her from poverty and prostitution and
infamy? Have I not supplied all her wants with incessant
solicitude? Whatever her condition required has been plcn-
teously supplied. This dwelling and its furniture, was hers,
as far as a rigid jurisprudence would permit. To prescribe
ber expences and govern her family, was the province of her
YoU^have heard the tale of my ancuish and despair.
WhenC'e did they flow but from the frustration of scliemes,
projected for her benefit, as they were executed with her
KODcy and by mciuis which the authority of her guardian
ARTHUR MERVYN. 2 1 1
fully justifted. Why have I encountered this contagious
atmosphere, and explored my way, like a thief, to this recess,
but with a view to rescue her from poverty and restore to her,
Your scruples are ridiculous and criminal. I treat them
with less severity, because your youth is raw and your con-
ceptions crude. But if, after this proof of the justice of
my claim, you hesitate to restore the money, I shall treat you
as a robber, who has plundered my cabinet and refused to
refund his spoil.
These reasonings were powerful and new. I v/as acquainted
with the rights of guardianship. Welbeck had, in some
respects, acted as the friend of this lady. To vest himself
with this office, was the conduct which her youth and help-
lessness prescribed to her friend. His title to this money,
as her guardian, could not be denied.
But how was this statement compatible with former repre-
sentations? No mention had then been made of guardian-
ship. By thus acting, he would have thwarted all his schemes
for winning the esteem of mankind, and fostering the belief
which the world entertained of his opulence and indepen-
I was thrown, by these thoughts, into considerable per-
plexity. If his statement were true, his claim to this' money
was established, but I questioned its truth. To intimate my
doubts of his veracity, would be to provoke abhorrence and
His last insinuation was peculiarly momentous. Suppose
him the fraudulent possessor of this money, shall I be jus-
tified in taking it away by violence under pretence of restor-
ing it to the genuine proprietor, who, for aught I know, may
be dead, or with whom, at least, I may never procure a
meeting? But will not my behaviour on this occasion, be
deemcd^llicit? I entered Welbeck's habitation at midnight,
proceeded to his closet, possessed myself of portable property,
2 13 ARTHUR MERVYN.
and retired unobserved. Is not guilt inputable to an action
Welbeck waited with impatience for a conclusion to my
pause. My perplexity and indecision did not abate, and my
silence continued. At length, he repeated his demands,
With new vehemence. I was compelled to answer. I told
him, in few words, that his reasonings had not convinced me
of the equity of bis claim, and that my determination was
He had not expected this inflexibility from one in my
situation. The folly of opposition, when my feebleness and
loneliness were contrasted with his activity and resources,
appeared to him monstrous and glaring, but his contempt was
converted into rage and fear when he reflected that this folly
might finally defeat his hopes. He had probably determined
to obtain the money, let the purchase cost what it would,
but was willing to exhaust pacific expedients before he should
resort to force. He might likewise question whether the
money was within his reach : 1 had told him that I had it, but
whether it was now about me, was somewhat dubious; yet,
though he used no direct inquiries, he chose to proceed on
the supposition of its being at hand. His angry tones were
now changed into those of remonstrance and persuasion.
Your present behaviour, Mervyn, does not justify the
expectation I had formed of you. You have been guilty of
a base theft. To this you have added the deeper crime of
ingratitude, but your infatuation and folly are, at least, as
glaring as your guilt. Do you think I can credit your. asser-
tions that you keep this money for another, when I recollect
that six weeks have passed since you carried it off? Why-
have you not sought the owner and restored it to her ? If
your intentions had been honest, would you have suifered so
long a time to elapse without doing this ? It is plain, that
you designed to keep it for your own use. t •,
But whether this were your purpose or not, you have no
longer power to restore it or retain it. You say that you
ARTHUR MKRV^-T^T. 213
came hltlier to die. If so, v.'hat is to be tlie fate of the
mo"ney ? Tn your present situation you cannot gain access to
the lady. Some other must inherit this wealth. Next to
Signora Lodi^ whose right can he put in competition with
mine ? But if you will not give it to me, on my own account,
let it be g-iven in tnist for her. Let me be the bearer of it to
her own hands. I have already shewn you that my claim to it,
as her guardian, is legal and incontrovertible, but this claim,
I wave. I will merely be the executor of your will. 1 will
bind myself to comply with your directions by any oath,
however solemn and tremendous, which you shall prescribe.
As long- as my own heart acquitted me, these imputations
of dishonesty affected me but little. They excited no anger,
because they originated in ignorance, and were rendered
plausible to Welbeck, by such facts as were known to him.
It was needless to confute the charge by elaborate and cir-
It was true that my recovery was, in the highest degree,
improbable, and that my death would put an end to my
power over this money ; but had I not determined to secure
its useful application, in case of my death ? This project
•was obstmcted by the presence of Welbeck, but I hoped
that his love of life would induce him to fly. He might
wrest this volume from me by violence, or he might wait
till my deaths hculd give him peaceable possession. But
these, though probable events, were not certain, and would,
by no means, justify the voluntary surrender. His strength,
if employed for this end, could not be resisted; but then it
would be a sacrifice, not to choice, but necessity.
Promises were easily given, but were surely not to be
confided in, Welbeck's own tale, in which it could not be
imagined that he had aggravated his defects, attested the
frailty of his virtue. To put into his hands, a sum like this,
in expectation of his delivering it to another, when my
death would cover the transaction with impenetrable secrecy,
214 ARTHUR MERVYN.
would be, indeed, aproof of that infatuation which he thought
proper to impute to me.
These thoughts influenced my resolutions, but they were
revolved in silence. To state them verbally was useless.
They would not justify my conduct in his eyes. They
would only exasperate dispute, and impel him to those
acts of violence which I was desirous of preventing. The
sooner this controversy should end, and my measure be freed
from the obstruction of his company, the better.
Mr. Welbeck, said I, my regard to your safety compells
me to wish that this Interview should terminate. At a dif-
ferent time, I should not be unwilling to discuss this matter.
Now it will be fruitless. My conscience points out to me
too clearly the path 1 should pursue for me to mistake it.
As long as I have power over this money I shall keep it for
the use of the unfortunate lady, whom I have seen in this
house. I shall exert myself to find her, but if that be im-
possible, I shall appropriate it in a way, in which you shall
have no participation.
I will not repeat the contest that succeeded between my
forbearance and his passions. I listened to the dictates of his
rage and his avarice in s;lence. Astonishment, at my Inflexi-
bility, was blf-nded with his anger. By turns he commented
on the guilt and on the folly of u^y resolutions. Sometimes
his emotions would mount into fury, and he would approach
me in a menacing attitude, and lift his hand i»s if he would
exterminate me at a blow. My languid eyes, my cheeks
glowing, and my temples throbbing with fever, and my
total pas^iveness, attracted his attention and arrested his
stroke. Compassion would take plate of rage, and the
belief be revived that remonstrances and arguments would
answer his puqaose.
[ ^^5 1
1 HIS scene lasted, I know not how long. Insen-
sibly the passions and reasonings of Welbeck assumed a ne\r
form. A grief, mingled with perplexity, overspread his coun-
tenance. He ceased to contend or to speak. His regards
were withdrawn from me, on whom they had hitherto been
fixed ; and wandering or vacant, testified a conflict of mind,
terrible beyond any that my young imagination had ever
For a time, he appeared to be unconscious of my presence.
He moved to and fro with unequal steps, and with gesticu-
lations, that possessed an horrible but indistinct significance.
Occasionally he struggled for breath, and his efforts were
directed to remove some choaking impediment.
No test of my fortitude had hitherto occurred equal to
that to which it v/as now subjected. The suspicion which
this deportment suggested was vague and formless. The
tempest which I witnessed was the prelude of horror. These
were throes which would terminate in the birth of some
gigantic and sanguinary purpose. Did he meditate to offer a
bloody sacrifice? Was his own death or was mine to attest
the magnitude of his despair, or the impetuosity of his.
Suicide was familiar to his thoughts. He had consented
to live but on one condition: that of regaining possession of
this money. Sho>'ld 1 be justified in driving him, by ray
zi6 ARTHUR MERVYN.
obstinate refusal, to this fatal consummation of his crimes?
Yet my fear of this catastrophe was groundless. Hitherto he
had argued and persuaded, but this method was pursued
Dscause it was more eligible than the employment of force,
or than procrastination.
No. These were tokens that pointed to me. Some un-
known instigation was at work within him, to tear away his
remnant of humanity, and fit him for the office of my mur-
derer. I knew not how the accumulation of guilt could con-
tribute to his gratification or security. His actions had been
partiiilly exhibited and vaguely seen. What extenuations or
omissions had vitiated his former or recent narrative ;,hovr
far his actual performances were congenial with the deed
which was now to be perpetrated, I knew not.
These thoughts lent new rapidity to my blood. I raised
my head from the pillow, and watched the deportment of
tliis man, with deeper attention. The paroxysm which con-
trolled him, at length, in some degree subsided. He mut-
tered. Yes. It must come. My last humiliation must cover
me. My last confession must be made. To die, and leave
behind me this train of enormous perils, must not be.
OGlemenza! O Mervynl Ye have not merited that I
should leave you a legacy of persecution and death. Your
safety must be purchased at what price my malignant destiny
will set upon it. The cord of the executioner, the note of
•verlasting infamy, is betier than to leave you beset by the
consequences of my guilt. It must not be.
Saying this, Welbeck cast fearful glances at the windows
and door. He examined every avenue and listened. Thrice he
repeated this scrutiny. Having, as it seemed, ascertained
that no one lurked within audience, he approached the bed.
He put his mouth close to my face. He attempted to speak,
but once more examined the apartment with suspicious
He drew closer, and at length, in a tone, scarcely articu-
late and suITocatcd with emotion, he spoke: Excellent but
ARTHUR MERVYN. a i T
fatally obstinate youth 1 Know at least the cause of my im-
portunity. Know at least the depth of my infatuation and
the enormity of my guilt.
The bills — Surrender them to me, and save yourself from
persecution and disgrace. Save the woman whom you wish
to benefit, from the blackest imputations; from hazard to
her life and her fame ; from languishing in dungeons ; from
expiring on the gallows I —
The bills — O save me from the bitterness of death. Let
the evils, to which my miserable life has given birth termi-
nate here and in myself. Surrender them to me, for—
There he stopped. His utterance was choaked by terror.
Rapid glances were again darted at the windows and door.
The silence was uninterrupted except by far-off sounds, pro-
duced by some moving carnage. Once more, he summoned
resolution, and spoke :
Surrender them to me, for — they are forged.
Formerly 1 told you, that a scheme of forgery had been
conceived. Shame would not suffer me to add, that my
scheme was carried into execution. The bills were fashioned,
but my fears contended against my necessities, and forbade
me to attempt to exchange them. The interview with Lodi
saved me from the dangerous experiment. I enclosed them
in that volume, as the means of future opulence, to be used
when all other, and less hazardous resources should fail.
In the agonies of my remorse, at the death of Watson,
they were forgotten. They afterwards recurred to recollec-
tion. My wishes pointed to the grave ; but the stroke that
should deliver me from life, was suspended only till 1 could
hasten hither, get possession of thefe papers, and destroy them.
When 1 thought upon the chances that should give them
an ov/ner; bring them into circulation; load the innocent
with suspicion; and lead them to trial, and, perhaps, to
death, my sensations were fraught with agony: earnestly as
I panted for death, it was necessarily deferred till I had
gained possession of and destroyed these papers.
2i8 ARTHUR MERVYN.
What now remains? You liave found them. Happily
they have not been used. Give them, therefore, to me, that
I may crush at once the brood of mischiefs which they could
not but generate.
This disclosure was strange. It was accompanied with
every token of sincerity. How had 1 tottered on the brink
of destruction 1 If I had made use of this money, in what a
labrynth of misery might I not have been involved! My
innocence could never have been proved. An alliance with
Welbeck could not have failed to be inferred. My career
would have found an ignominious close ; or, if my punish-
ment had been transmuted into slavery and toil, would the
testimony of my conscience have supported me ?
I shuddered at the view of those disasters from wliich I
•was rescued by the miraculous chance which led me to this
house. Welbeck's request was salutary to me, and honour-
able to himself. I coulJ not hesitate a moment in compli-
ance. The notes were enclosed in paper, and deposited in a
fold of my clothes. I put my hand upon them.
My motion and attention was arrested at the instant, by
a noise which arose in the ftreet. Foot-steps were heard upon
the pavement before the door, and voices, as if busy in dis-
course. Tliis incident was adapted to infuse the deepest
alarm into myself and my companien. The motives of our
trepidation were, indeed, different, and were infinitely more
powerful in my case than in his. It portended to me nothing
less .than the loss of my asylum, and condemnation to an
Welbsck hurried to the door, to listen to the conversation
below. Thifi interval was pregnant with thought. That
impulse which led my reflections from Welbeck to my own
state, past away in a moment, and suffered me to meditate
anew upon the terms of Chat confession which had just been
. Plorror at the fate which this interview had enabled me
m shun, was uppermost in my conceptions. I was eager to
ARTHUR ^lERVYN. 219
Surrender these fatal bills. I held them for that purpose in
my hand, and was impatient for Welbeck's return. He con-
tinued at the door; stooping, with his face averted, and
eagerly attentive to the conversation in the street.
All the circumstances of my present situation tended to
arrest the progress of thought, and chain my contemplations
to one image ; but even now there was room for foresight
and deliberation. Welbeck intended to destroy these bills.
Perhaps he had not been sincere ; or, if his purpose had been
honestly disclosed, this purpose might change when the bills
were in his possession. iHis poverty and sanguiness of
temper, might pronipt him to use them.
That this conduct was evil and would only multiply his
miseries, could not be questioned. \Vhy should I subject
his frailty to this tem.ptation? The destruction of these bills
was the loudest injunction of my duty; was demanded by
ever)' sanction v;hich bound me to promote the welfare o£
The meanjs of riestructlon were easy. A lighted candle
stood on a table, at the distance of a few yards. Why
should I hesitate a moment to annihilate so powerful a cause
of error and guilt. A passing instant was sufficient. A mo-
meiiirary lingering might change the circumstances ,^hat sur-
rounded me, and frustrate my project.
My languors were suspended by the urgencies of this occa-
sion. I started from my bed and glided to the table. Seiz-
ing the notes with my right hand, I held them in the flame
of the candle, and then threw them, blazing, on the floor.
The sudden illumination was perceived by Welbeck. The
cause of it appeared to suggest itself as soon. He turned, and
marking the paper where it lay, leaped to the spot, and ex-
tinguished the fire with his foot. His interposition was too
late. Only enough of them remained to inform him of the
nature of the sacrifice.
Welbeck now stood, with limbs trembling, features'aghafl:,
and eyes glaring upon me. For a time he was without speech.
a2o ARTHUR MERVYN.
The storm was gathering in silence, and at length burst upon
jiie. In a tone menacing and lend, he exclaimed :
Wretch I What have you done ?
1 have done justly. These notes -were false. You desired
to destroy them that they miglit not betray the innocent. I
applauded your purpose, and have saved you froiu the danger
of temptation by destroying them mys-lf.
Maniac ! Miscreant 1 To be fooled by so gross an artifice i
The notes were genuine. The tale of their forgery was false,
and meant only to wrest them from you. Execrable and per-
verse idiot 1 Your deed has sealed my perdition. It has sealed
your ovv'n. You shall pay for it with your blood. I will slay
you by inches. I will stretch you as you have stretched me,
on the rack.
During this speech, all was frenzy and storm in the coun-
tenance and features of Welbeck. Nothing less could be
expected than that the scene would terminate in some bloody
catastrophe. I bitterly regretted the facility with which I
bad been deceived, and the precipitation of my sacrifice. The
act, however lamentable, could not be revoked. What
remained, but to encounter or endure its consequences with
The contest was too unequal. It is possible that the frenzy
"¥v-hich actuated Welbeck might have speedily subsided. It
is more likely that his passions would have been satiated
•with nothing but my death. This event was precluded by
loud knocks at the strtet-door, and calls by some one on tl.e
pavement without, of — Who is w'tUin? Is any one within?
These noises gave a new direction to Welbeck's thoughts.
They are coming said he. They will treat you as a sick man
and a theif. 1 cannot desire you to suffer a worse evil than
they will inflict. I Uave you to your fate. So saying, he
rushed out of the room.
Though confounded and stunned by this rapid succession
•f events, I was yet able to pursue measures for eluding these
detested visitants. I first extinguished the light, and then,
ARTHUR MERVYN. iii
ebserving that the parley in the street continued and grew
louder, I sought an asylum in the remotest corner of the
house. During my former abode here, I noticed, that a trap
door opened in the ceiling of the third story, to which you
were conducted by a movable stair or ladder. I considered
that this, propably, was an opening into a narrow and dark-
some nook, formed by the angle of the roof. By ascending,
drawing after me the ladder, and closing the door, I should
escape the most vigilant search.
Enfeebled as I was by my disease, my resolution rendered
me strenuous. I gained the uppermost room, and mounting
the ladder, found myself at a sufficient distance from suspi-
cion. The stair was hastily drawn up, and the door closed.
In a few minutes, however, my new retreat proved to be
worse than any for which it was possible to change it. The
air was musty, stagnant, and scorchingiy hot. My breath-
ing became difficult, and I saw that to remain here ten
minutes, would unavoidably produce suffocation.
My terror of intruders had rendered me blind to the con-
sequences of immuring myself in this chearless recess. It was
incumbent on me to extricate myself as speedily as possible.
I attempted to lift the door. My first effort was succe-sless.
Every inspiration was quicker, and more difficult than the
former. As my terror, so my strength and my exertions
increased. Finally my trembling hand lighted on a nail that
was imperfectly driven into the wood, and which by afford-
ing me a firmer hold, enabled me at length to raise it, and to
inhale the air from beneath.
Relieved from my new peril, by this situation, I bent an
attentive ear through the opening with a view to ascertain
if the house had been entered or if the outer door was still
beset, but could hear nothing. Hence I was authorized to
conclude, that the people had departed, and that I might
resume my former station without hazard.
Before I descended, however, I cast a curious eye over
this recess — It was large enough to accommodate an human
222 ARTHUR MERVYN.
being. The means by which it was entered were easily con-
cealed. Though narrow and low, it was long, and were it
possible to contrive some inlet for the air, one studious of
concealment, might rely on its protection with unbounded
My scrutiny was imperfect by reason of the faint light
which found its way through the opening, yet it was sufficient
to set me afloat on a sea of new wonders and subject my
fortitude to a new test —
Here Mervyn paused in his narrative. A minute passed
in silence and seeming indecision. His perplexities gradually
disappeared, and he continued.
I have promised to relate the momentous incidents of my
life, and have hitherto been faithful in my enumeration.
There is nothing which I more detest than equivocation and
mystery. Perhaps, however, I shall now incur some impu-
tation of that kind. I would willingly escape the accusation,
but confess that I am hopeless of escaping it.
I might indeed have precluded your guesses and surmises
by omitting to relate what befcl me from the time of my
leaving my chamber till I regained it. 1 might deceive you
by asserting that nothing remarkable occurred, but this would
be false, and every sacrifice is trivial which is made upon
the altar of sincerity. Beside, the time may come when no
inconvenience will arise from minute descriptions of the
objects which I now saw and of the reasonings and inferen-
ces v/hich they suggested to my understanding. At present,
it appears to be my duty to p&ss them over in silence, but it
■would be needless to conceal from you that the interval,
though short, and the scrutiny, though hasty, furnished mat-
ter which my curiosity devoured with unspeakable eagerness,
and from which consequences may hereafter flow, deciding
on my peace and my life.
Nothing however occui red which could detain me long in
this spot. I once niore sought the lower story and threw my-
self on the bed which 1 had left. My mind was thronged
ARTHUR MERVl^N. 123
with ,the iinag-es flowing from my late adventnres. My fever
had gradcilly incre-iscd, and my thou^'hts were deformed by
inaccui-acy and confusion.
My heart did not sink when I reverted to my own condi-
tion. Th?.t I should quickly be disabled from moving, was
readily perceived. The fore-sight of my destiny was sted-
fast and clear. To linger for days in this comfortless soli-
tude, to ask in vain, not for powerful restoratives or allevi-
ating cordials, but for water to moisten my burning lips, and
abate the torments of thirst; ultimately, to expire in torpor
or phrenzy, was the fate to which I looked forward, yet I
was not terrified. I seemed to be sustained by a preterna-
tural energy. I felt as if the opportunity of combating such
evils was an enviable privilege, and though none would wit-
ness my victorious magnanimity, yet to be conscious that
praise was my due, was all that my ambition required.
These sentiments were do^ibtless tokens of delirium. The
excruciating agonies which now seized upon my head, and
the cord which seemed to be drawn across my breast, and
which, as my fancy imagined, was tightened by some forcible
hand, with a view to strangle me, were incompatible with
sober and coherent views.
Thirst was the evil which chiefly oppressed me. The
means of relief were pointed out by nature and habit. I rose
and determined to replenish my pitcher at the well. It was
easier, however, to descend than to return. My limbs refu-
sed to bear me, and I sat down upon the lower step of the
stair-case. Several hours had elapsed since my entrance
into this dwelling, and it was now night.
My imagination now suggested anew expedient. Medli-
cote was a generous and fearless spirit. To put myself under
his protection, if I could walk as far as his lodgings, was
the wisest proceeding which 1 could adopt. From this design,
my incapacity to walk thus far, and the consequences of
being discovered in the street, had hitherto deterred me.
These impediments were no.r, in the confusion of my under-
2i4 ARTHUR MERVYN.
standing, overlooked or dispised, and I forthwith set out
upon this hopeless expedition.
The doors communicating with the court, and through the
court, with the street, were fastened by inside bolts. These
were easily withdrawn, and I issued forth with alacrity and
confidence. My perturbed senses and the darkness hindered
me from discerning the right way. I was conscious of this
difficulty, but was not disheartened. I proceeded, as 1 have
sinc€ discovered, in a direction different from the true, but
hesitated not, till my powers were exhausted, and I sunk upon
the ground. I closed my eyes, and dismissed all fear, and
all fore-sight of futurity. In this situation I remained some
hours, and should probably have expired on this spot, had
not I attracted your notice, and been provided under this
roof, with all that medical skill, and the tenderest humanity
In consequence of your care, I have been restored to life
and to health. Your conduct was not influenced by the pros-
pect of pecuniary recompence, of service, or of gratitude. It
is only in one way that I am able to heighten the gratifica-
tion which must flow from reflection on your conduct — by
shewing that the being whose life you have prolonged,
though uneducated, ignorant and poor, is not profligate and
worthless, and will not dedicate that life which your bounty
has given, to mischievous or contemptible purpofcs.